On February 1, the Drop the Fees campaign begins, supported by the Canadian Federation of Students. Marked with large marches, demonstrations and protests, the campaign continues throughout the year.
The CFS works under the "one big union" model. This means that they think there is only so much even the most active student union can do. By having multiple student unions under their organization, they can pool resources and fight nationally for human rights. The CFS has a membership of more than half a million students and 80 student unions from across the country. They lobby the federal and provincial governments to reduce tuition fees and run student oriented campaigns and services, including the student health care network. Traditionally held in November, the date has been moved to the first of February.
It's not just a rumour - tuition fees are way too high.
According to Statistics Canada, in the 2011/2012 academic year, undergraduate students are paying 4.3 per cent more on average than last fall for the same education. This is after the year before saw an increase of 4 per cent. This means in the last two years alone, tuition has skyrocketed almost 10 per cent on average. Undergrad students in Ontario pay some of the highest tuition fees in the country ($6 640 a year) followed closely by students in New Brunswick ($5 853 a year). Undergrads in Quebec have the lowest fees ($2 519) with students in Newfoundland and Labrador holding second place ($2 649).
Graduate students don't have it any better: the average tuition for a Canadian master's student is $5 599. These fees have also shot up since the year before, an increase of almost four per cent. International students are charged an average whopping $17 571 a year, up 10 per cent in the last two years. Universities are also tacking on more additional compulsory fees for students.
Newfoundland and Labrador have had their tuition fees frozen since 2005 and no longer have any interest on their student loans saving students almost two thousand dollars in interest. The freeze came about because of protests and inside lobbying from student organizations and the CFS. Tuition freezes have happened around the country on and off since the nineties after the inception of the CFS.
With enough organization, determination and solidarity students can make university accessible for all Canadians.