Tuition transparency is a vital aspect of Osgoode’s commitment to accountability. Students ought to know where their tuition dollars go (and what other revenues the Law School relies upon), and ought to understand the relationship between tuition, the costs of legal education, and the quality of the student experience.
The article in this week’s Obiter provides a helpful catalyst for our conversation about tuition. This is a conversation with many perspectives – how does Osgoode’s tuition compare with peer institutions? How has financial assistance risen to meet the challenges of Osgoode’s tuition? How has Government investment in legal education and postsecondary education generally evolved in the context of tuition? What are the implications of increasing tuition and increasing debt loads for Osgoode’s students, programs, and community?
Any conversation about tuition is also a conversation about the costs of legal education. It should come as no surprise that salaries and benefits represent the lion’s share of the expenses of the Law School (like the University generally). Legal education, in other words, is about people. Tuition supports our ability to attract and retain the very best – to enhance our full-time faculty complement, bring visiting lawyers and academics to Osgoode, establish new programs and staff services, expand our experiential offerings, and enrich the academic experience.
While tuition makes the delivery of legal education possible, increasing the cost of a legal education too much or too fast risks undermining our goals of accessibility, equity, and inclusion. Consultations to date have made it clear that we need to expand existing financial aid through scholarships and bursaries to incoming students and students in-program. Additionally, through the Accessibility Fund (established with surplus revenues generated from Osgoode’s successful Professional Development Centre), Osgoode has established our first graduation bursaries and “back-end” debt relief initiatives. We need to build on these commitments, and, most importantly, work together to ensure students remain involved and engaged in all aspects of their legal education at Osgoode. To this end, I welcome the conversation on tuition transparency.