Komal Singh and Alisha Harinarain were concerned when they heard the Conservative government announced a 10 per cent tuition cut for university and college students across Ontario.

Like many students in the province, the two third-year justice studies students studying at the University of Guelph-Humber are unsure of the impact this cut may have on their university education and experience.

“I have another year to go and I don’t want to worry about my financial issues,” says Harinarain.

Harinarain believes this cut is going to affect a lot of people and can possibly increase other costs on campus, such as parking and food prices.

Students Alisha Harinarain and Komal Singh sit by the plant wall in the University of Guelph-Humber.

Third-year justice studies students Alisha Harinarain and Komal Singh are concerned about the drawbacks of the 10 per cent tuition cut. (Amanda Naccarato/GH360)

According to Northumberland-Peterborough South Conservative MPP David Piccini, the 10 per cent tuition cut    which promises to “put students first”   will apply to the 2019-20 academic year and remain frozen into the following year.

“There is some predictability there for students,” says Piccini, the parliamentary assistant to the minister of training, colleges and universities.

Piccini explains that a Humber College student undertaking, for example, an Honours Bachelor of Social Science in criminal justice, who paid an estimated $6,726 this 2018-19 academic year can expect to save $670 from the reduced tuition.

This would bring their tuition cost in the 2019-20 year closer to $6,000 and it will remain that amount the following school year.

This decision to reduce tuition stemmed from conversations with students. “It’s putting a little more money back in students’ pockets,” Piccini says.

While the state of tuition beyond the two years is still unclear, Piccini assures the Ford government will be working with universities and colleges going forward to reach an agreement.

Vice-provost and chief academic officer of the University of Guelph-Humber John Walsh says this tuition cut is quite complicated. Not only is tuition changing, but there are changes being made to OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) as well as allowing students to opt out of paying certain student fees.

“It’s as new for us as anyone else,” says Walsh.

The vice-provost understands that students, such as Singh and Harinarain, will worry about all sorts of drawbacks regarding the impact of these decisions, but he discourages jumping to conclusions.

Singh relies on the OSAP program. In fact, with Guelph-Humber’s renewable scholarship and OSAP grants, Singh was able to have her tuition fully covered this semester.

This is a significant aid for Singh who not only works two jobs to cover the cost of textbooks and other fees on campus, but also helps provide for her single-income family.

She worries these changes will mean losing OSAP grants and possibly even her renewable scholarship from the university.

“Our approach at Guelph-Humber is first let’s get the facts to understand the details. Then we’ll deal with how to address the resource issue that might arise,” Walsh says.

According to Piccini, the 10 per cent tuition cut does not equate to a 10 per cent operating budget cut for universities. The overall revenue loss for universities is closer to 2.5 per cent, an average “we are confident that they can deal with,” says Piccini.

While much is still to unfold in these next few months in preparation for the new academic year, Walsh says that once the university knows all the details of this tuition cut and its ripple effects then they will know the scale of revenue loss.

Whatever the loss may be, he says the university, in works with both the University of Guelph and Humber College, will be thoughtful in preserving funds. “We’ll be as creative as we can.”