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Cambrian College will hike tuition by 5% if province allows it

That’s unlikely, though, as Premier Doug Ford has stated he’s ruled out tuition fee increases at colleges and universities
Cambrian College.

In the event that Premier Doug Ford changes his mind, and allows post-secondary schools in Ontario to increase domestic tuition fees, Cambrian College’s board of governors has approved a five per cent tuition hike for these students.

In the meantime, though, 2024-25 tuition fees for domestic students will remain frozen at Cambrian College. 

The college’s board of governors approved proposed 2024-2025 tuition and ancillary fees at their Feb. 22 meeting.

“Domestic tuition has been frozen for five years, and continues to be frozen,” said Derek Serafini, Cambrian College’s registrar, who presented a report on the subject to board members.

“You're receiving a motion to make that in the event that the ministry lifts the tuition freeze, that we be allowed to increase by up to five per cent. 

“The five per cent derives directly from the blue ribbon panel report that came out this fall, suggesting that colleges be permitted to increase tuition.”

The blue ribbon panel Serafini was referring to was created by the province in response to the 2021-22 insolvency at Sudbury’s own Laurentian University, and examined the financial sustainability of Ontario’s post-secondary sector.

Coincidentally, among those who sat on the blue ribbon panel was Maxim Jean-Louis, who also sits on Cambrian College’s board of governors.

Among other measures, the panel recommended a one-time tuition fee increase of five per cent effective next September, followed by tuition fee increases of two per cent or the rate of inflation, whichever is greater. 

However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters Feb. 13 he has completely ruled out tuition fee increases as a way to ease financial struggles faced by the province's colleges and universities.

Neither Ford nor Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop have indicated yet what they plan to do to stabilize post-secondary funding, aside from telling institutions to find efficiencies, and, now ruling out a tuition increase.

During their Feb. 22 meeting, Cambrian’s board of governors also approved international student tuition fee increases of three per cent for most international students, as well as a three per cent increase in ancillary fees for the 2024-2025 school year.

Ancillary fees cover costs related to educational support services and activities, such as convocation and the athletic centre.

“International tuition was approved last year by the board as a two-year approval at three per cent,” said Serafini. 

“So this would be moving into the second year of a three per cent increase for international students. There are a few programs where there are variations within the report as well. All, again, approved and reviewed last year. 

“Ancillary fees, there is a proposal to increase by three per cent. And that three per cent is just largely due to the inflationary factors and kind of follows the practice we've been following for the last since 2020, a year over year increase so that no one year students gets a massive increase to catch up.”

For their part, international students have been very much in the news so far in 2024, with the federal government taking steps to stem their explosive growth, which has caused issues, including pressure on housing.

Cambrian College’s international student population has increased by more than 200 per cent since 2018 both at its Sudbury campus and at its Hanson Canada campus, a GTA-area private college offering Cambrian programming to international students.

The federal government has decreased the number of international students that will be allowed into the country, with Ontario’s portion cut in half.

There are also several other measures surrounding the issuing of work permits for international students and their spouses. 

International students studying at private colleges offering programming on behalf of public colleges (such as Hanson Canada) will no longer be eligible for post-graduation work permits. 

With an immediate requirement that new applications for student visas come with a letter of attestation from provinces saying they fall under the new visa caps, currently there is essentially a moratorium on processing new international students.

Last week, Laurentian University interim president Sheila Embleton commented on the situation regarding the ongoing tuition fee freeze in Ontario and the international student visa caps, saying the whole post-secondary sector is in “turmoil.”

-With files from Canadian Press

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.