UOIT students vote to walkout March 24

Drop Tuition UOIT spokesperson Jesse Cullen and Criminology student Samantha Russell plan to walkout March 24.
Drop Tuition UOIT spokesperson, Jesse Cullen and UOIT Criminology student Samantha Russell plan to walkout March 24.

UOIT students are planning to go on strike after voting to hold a one-day student walkout to protest against high tuition fees.

According to Jesse Cullen, spokesperson for Drop Tuition UOIT, the purpose of the strike is to get the province of Ontario to lower tuition fees and eliminate student debt.

Drop Tuition UOIT is a grassroots organization trying to lower tuition fees and remove student debt.

“We know the fees won’t be abolished overnight, but it gets the conversation going,” Cullen says.

However, UOIT communications officer Bryan Oliver says the Office of Student Awards and Financial Aid is lowering tuition through scholarships and bursaries.

“UOIT offers more than $60 million annually in financial aid,” Oliver says, noting it includes $7 million through scholarships, bursaries and wages to student employees, which help offset tuition and over $54 million in OSAP assistance.

UOIT’s website says the tuition average for a Canadian student is between $6,000 and $9,000 and between $18,000 and $22,000 for an international student.

In comparison, University of Toronto’s average for a Canadian student is $6,000 to $11,000, and $27,000 to $35,000 for an international student, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The Council of Universities say tuition average is based on applicant and program type.

No matter what type of program, Cullen says, high tuition fees are unsustainable.

“There’s lots of creative solutions the province of Ontario and the provinces across Canada can look for examples,” Cullen said, referring to the recent decision by Germany to remove tuition fees.

Oliver says UOIT recognizes the costs associated with attending university.

“Despite bursaries, scholarships and government aid programs, universities recognize that many students go into debt to fund their education,” Oliver says.

This is the first walkout in UOIT’s history and Cullen says he is confident the strike will be successful.

UOIT’s north and downtown campus will walkout March 24.