Recently, the Ford government introduced a proposal to change various aspects of financial aid for students.
The changes include a more stringent control over who receives OSAP funding, with a three per cent increase in the share of funds going to low income families.
The idea behind this cut is to restore the sustainability of financial aid programs and to relieve the burden of student debt since students often face the repercussion of high interest rates associated with the loans.
To offset the decrease in financial aid, the Ford government announced a 10 per cent reduction in tuition alongside the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative.
The student choice initiative allows students to choose which ancillary fees to pay and how that money will be allocated.
Merrilee Fullerton, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said that the student choice initiative “will ensure students have transparency and freedom of choice regarding the campus services and organizations which get access to their money.”
Overall, the universities will decide which fees are mandatory, and which ones are optional and the students decide whether or not to pay the optional fees.
On the surface these changes seem beneficial, as they hold student clubs more accountable due to the absence of promised a certain portion of student fees. Student clubs will have to secure their funding by proving their value to the students. This imposes restrictions on clubs and can hopefully prevent situations such as the credit card scandal within the Ryerson Student Union.
However, many student clubs feel attacked by these changes.
The ability for the government and the university to directly impact the funding of clubs raises a conflict of interest.
Student unions and student newspapers often take on the responsibility of holding the government and the university accountable for their actions.
By making certain clubs optional, there is a strong possibility for this policy to harm the quality of services available to and the overall post-secondary experience of students.