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Which non-tuition fees can students opt out of? U of T receives more details

(photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

The University of Toronto has received further guidance on the Ontario government’s directive to let students opt out of fees for many student societies and services. 

The new policy, to take effect in September, allows post-secondary students to withdraw from non-tuition fees considered non-essential.

But according to information provided to universities this week, fees related to health and counselling, athletics and recreation, and academic support services are among those that will remain compulsory.

Sandy Welsh, U of T’s vice-provost, students, said she sympathizes with student societies whose funding will be impacted by the change. 

“Under the government's framework, student fees for many campus activities do not appear to fit the ministry’s category of ‘essential,’” she said. 

“We know that all student groups are concerned about how this will affect them, and we appreciate that this is difficult news.”

The Ontario government first revealed its “student choice initiative” back in January alongside changes to the province’s tuition framework and Ontario Student Assistance Program, or OSAP. However, it wasn’t until this week that the government provided details about which non-tuition fees would be considered mandatory and therefore excluded from the initiative.

Fees that will be considered “essential” include:

  • Athletics and recreation
  • Career services
  • Student buildings
  • Health and counselling
  • Academic support
  • Student ID cards
  • Transcripts, convocation
  • Financial aid offices
  • Walk safe programs

In addition, students can't opt out of existing compulsory transit passes. They may, however, opt out of health and dental plans – but only if they have pre-existing coverage.

Welsh said the university isn’t aware of any leeway to decide which fees are essential. However, she said the Ontario government is expected to provide a final framework for the proposal shortly.

In the meantime, Welsh and her staff will be meeting with leaders of student societies to answer questions. 

“We value the contributions of our 45 student societies and the services they provide,” Welsh said. 

“We know how important their work is to enriching the lives of students across our three campuses.”