Canadian government makes tuition fees virtually free for poorer students

 The government unveiled new measures making college and university fees virtually free to low-income students

Canada has announced education will be virtually free for cash-strapped students but wealthier ones will still have to cough up. 

In the most radical shift in decades, the government unveiled a package of new measures designed to make college and university education more accessible to low-income families in Ontario. 

Setting the government budget on February 25, the Ontario Student Grant replaces the current system of tuition tax credits and educations credits.

The move is estimated to save $145 million next year, which will go towards funding the plans. 

But despite the new measures, they are not linked to tuition fees which could still rise and outstrip any benefits students gain from the shake-up. 

And if there is higher enrolment due to the grants, it is unclear what sources of funding would be used to offset the costs. 

The new scheme will launch in the 2017/18 school year, and means cash will be available upfront to students before tuition fees are due.

Ontarian paper The Star quoted minister of training, colleges and universities, Reza Moridi, explaining the proposals are geared towards students’ families earning less than $50,000. 

The government estimates that 70 per cent of students will in fact receive more in grants than the average cost of tuition fees, leaving them with no debt.

Ontario’s tuition fees are among the highest in the country, averaging $6,1600 per year for a degree at university, and $2,768 a year at college.

In England, university tuition fees jumped nearly threefold when in 2010 the coalition government moved the cap on tuition fees from £3,290 to £9,000.

There was widespread condemnation of the decision and the increase sparked protests up and down the country. 

Wildly varying across the UK, Scottish students enjoy free university as the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) covers the £1,820 cost. 

In global terms, England’s fees are still not the highest in the world when compared to salary, where the current fees represent 42 per cent of household income, or ninth most expensive. 

In the US, the total cost of tuition fees works out to around £60,510, or 53 per cent of a salary, ranking it sixth most expensive.

Also in the Americas, Chilean students can expect to fork out 73 per cent of their income on studying, which costs £15,554, putting it fourth on the list.  

The top three priciest countries to continue studying are Hungary, which tops the list with a whopping 92 per cent of salary spent on tuition fees, which work out to £22,358. 

Second is Romania, where fees of £16,609 equate to 86 per cent of your income, and third is Estonia, where you will need to spend 76 per cent of your pay on university fees of £25,310.