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March 4, 2013 University of Toronto Governing Council Business Board Subject: Proposed tuition fee increases To the University of Toronto Business Board: Graduate students at the University of Toronto wish to respond to the proposed 4% increase for most graduate programs and the proposed 6-8% increase for some doctoral and Professional Master’s degree programs. We understand that Ontario public funding for post-secondary education is 23% below the Canadian average and that this insufficient funding forces educational institutions to find other ways of balancing budgets. Overwhelmingly, however, proposed solutions by the University of Toronto continue to place a greater share of funding the university onto graduate students and our families. This has put us in a position where we pay the highest tuition fees in the country. We hope you agree that education is a right and that pursuing graduate studies should be affordable and accessible for everyone, regardless of income. Post-secondary education is a social equalizer only if everyone is ensured equal access. The Graduate Students’ Union is therefore calling on the University of Toronto Business Board to introduce post residency fees – reduced fees during the thesis-writing stage of graduate degrees – for all graduate students in the post-residency period of our studies. In the past, graduate programs across the country have charged students reduced fees later in our degrees. These post-residency fees are still widespread across the country but were eliminated in Ontario during the 1990s. In addition to paying the highest tuition fees in the country, most graduate students at the University of Toronto also continue to pay full tuition fees during the later stages of our degrees. This has created a huge incentive for students to pursue graduate studies outside of Ontario. If the University of Toronto wishes to increase graduate enrollment, shorten graduate completion times, and increase retention rates, post-residency fees must be reinstated. Although the University of Toronto has instituted post-residency fees for the final year of PhD studies, we are calling for the introduction of post-residency fees for the entire post-residency period of our studies. Graduate students who finish the course component of our degrees and are working on our research utilize fewer university resources. At the same time, graduate students make significant labour and research contributions to the core functions of the university during this phase of our studies. Reducing fees during this period would therefore recognize that senior graduate students are a net gain in resources for the institution. Most importantly, the introduction of post-residency fees for the entire post-residency period would help the University of Toronto balance its budget while also helping students afford the high cost of completing our graduate programs. The additional weight that high fees place on graduate students

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March 4, 2013

leads to longer completion times and lower retention rates. A report by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies reveals that as many as one third of doctoral students in Canada do not graduate at all. This amounts to lost personal investments for students, additional costs for the postsecondary education system, and a failure to graduate skilled individuals. We hope that you will seriously consider how the introduction of post-residency fees for the entire post-residency period of graduate programs would result in a net-gain both for the University of Toronto and for graduate students. We look forward to working with you to make graduate studies truly accessible for everyone. Sincerely, Erin Oldynski, External Commissioner Graduate Students’ Union, University of Toronto

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Speech in response to proposed tuition fee increase