“UTS has made me into me; it has put before me a blank slab of marble and thrust into my arms the hammer and chisel I need to shape my visions into reality. It is only because of your great generosity that I can experience the UTS community and apply what I have learned from it.”
-UTS Bursary Recipient
UTS was created by the province of Ontario and the University of Toronto to provide a training site for secondary school teachers. When UTS opened its doors on September 12, 1910, as part of the College of Education at the University of Toronto, the initial tuition was $30 for elementary grades and $40 for high school grades. As a tuition-based school committed to meritocratic admission, it is understandable that as tuition increased, UTS would eventually require a bursary program. It is difficult to know when the first bursary was granted; however, alumni from the 1930s and 1940s have shared stories of fellow students receiving financial assistance. In those days, there was no official bursary fund at UTS. The Headmaster would simply place a phone call to one of the more affluent UTS families or appeal to his personal friends who would privately act as benefactors to needy and deserving students. It was understood by the leadership of the school that financial assistance in some form was required to ensure that the school would not have to turn away students who met the rigorous admission standards.
In 1973, the first female students arrived at UTS and that same year, UTS Principal Don Gutteridge delivered a keynote speech to the UTS Old Boys, thanking them for their donations to help defray the $320 tuition for families of qualifying students. Principal Gutteridge reported, “It is with great satisfaction that we were able to award eight full bursaries and two half bursaries to enable students to attend UTS.”
Between 1978 and 1982, tuition fees grew by 230% resulting in the launch of the first official bursary campaign led by Jack Rhind ’38 and Bill Saunderson ’52. The campaign booklet proclaimed “With annual fees now at $800, there is a real danger that the school’s ability to maintain entrance standards based on merit alone will be seriously jeopardized. The introduction of a financial impediment to admission will undoubtedly prevent many students otherwise qualified from even applying to UTS. Such a situation would threaten the school’s very reputation.” $400,000 was raised to establish the first ongoing bursary fund for UTS permitting the school to continue as a model school for high-achieving students.
April 23, 1993 was a pivotal moment in the history of UTS because news reached the school that the Government of Ontario would cease its annual subsidy of $1.35 million (then equivalent to 44% of the school’s revenue). With tuition already at $3,515, the ability to fund the education of the 450 students seemed impossible. After the initial shock wore off, the UTS community rallied together and, with the benefit of matching funds from the University of Toronto as well as, ironically, the Government of Ontario, it raised an impressive $15 million through the Preserving the Opportunity Campaign.
Since the 1990s, fundraising for bursary support at UTS has continued. Following the conclusion of the Preserving the Opportunity Campaign, the UTS Alumni Association (UTSAA) ran annual fundraising drives specifically targeting bursary “top up” funds to augment the endowed funds raised from the campaign. Many reuniting classes of UTS alumni have celebrated their milestone anniversaries of graduation by establishing a named endowed bursary for UTS students. Individual alumni, parents, staff and even current students have made donations large and small to enhance the UTS bursary program. Our long list of named bursaries is testament to the strong support provided by our community.
In September 2007, the recently-established UTS Foundation received $31 million from the University of Toronto representing donations that had previously been held by the University of Toronto for UTS. $18 million of this hefty sum was designated for bursary support and today, the bursary fund has grown to $30.6 million.
An important milestone in the UTS bursary story coincides with the UTS Centennial in 2010. This year marked UTS’ financial independence from the University of Toronto with tuition representing 100% of the cost of a UTS education.
UTS’ commitment to merit-based admission regardless of financial means has not wavered, however. As part of this commitment, UTS annually awards approximately $1.4 million in bursary support to qualifying students, representing 17- 20 per cent of the student body. The average bursary awarded is approximately $12,000 but ranges from five per cent of tuition to full tuition for some students. UTS also provides supplementary bursary support to ensure that bursary recipients can take part in a wide range of curricular and co-curricular activities. They receive support for these activities based on the same proportion as their bursaries.
When UTS signed the renewed Affiliation Agreement with the University of Toronto in December 2015, certain terms were agreed upon. These included that “UTS shall, as part of the University community, endeavour… to provide the highest quality and accessible education to students selected on the basis of merit”.
Throughout all the years of bursary support at UTS, one common motivating factor has endured: the desire to help high-achieving students access the same outstanding UTS education as those who passed through the school before them. This commitment allows UTS to achieve significant socio-economic diversity where merit continues to be the key requirement for admission and academic success.
UTS was blessed with virtually full funding through its original status as a model school affiliated with the University of Toronto. UTS alumni have long known that this legacy has marked them not as the products of privilege but as individuals of exceptional academic promise polished by a superior secondary school experience. It distinguishes UTS alumni from the graduates of both Canadian public and private schools, and it represents the most singular value of a UTS education. A steadfast and expanded commitment to bursary funding is critical to the continuation of this most unique aspect of the UTS brand.
“UTS has maintained a great bursary program to ensure socio-economic diversity. UTS started as a school where financial means was not a barrier, and it continues to believe in that ideal. Is there a better place to learn than a fully diverse and inclusive school with an exceptional commitment to learning and innovation?”
-Monica Biringer ’78
Isabella Chiu ’13 received bursary assistance throughout her time at UTS. When she left for Harvard – where she was on full financial aid and graduated in 2017 – the choice was clear: she became a donor to the UTS bursary program. Says Isabella “I absolutely would not have been able to go to UTS without the bursary program. It opened a lot of doors. It means a lot for me to be able to give back to the community.”
Ki-Sang Yi, UTS Co-captain in 2014, expressed her thanks to the community “I am extremely grateful for the bursary program at UTS. The years I’ve spent at UTS have been some of the most meaningful and treasured experiences of my life. I sincerely hope that many other students are offered the same amazing opportunity to attend UTS as I was. Thank you for granting me such a fantastic high school experience.”
Carrie Ku ’85 is a regular donor to the UTS bursary program and one of the supporters of the Class of 1985 Bursary. Accompanying Carrie’s donation she wrote “As a bursary recipient myself, I certainly couldn’t have attended UTS without this assistance from others.”
“UTS has maintained a great bursary program to ensure socio-economic diversity. UTS started as a school where financial means was not a barrier, and it continues to believe in that ideal. Is there a better place to learn than a fully diverse and inclusive school with an exceptional commitment to learning and innovation?” - Monica Biringer ‘78
As one bursary recipient explains, “UTS has made me into me; it has put before me a blank slab of marble and thrust into my arms the hammer and chisel I need to shape my visions into reality. It is only because of your great generosity that I can experience the UTS community and apply what I have learned from it.”
Now at Stanford University studying mathematics, Gautam Manohar, from the Class of 2019, benefited from the bursary program throughout his time at UTS. Gautam wrote the following note to the family of one of his benefactors. His letter meant so much to them that they read it at their father’s funeral. It truly demonstrates the power of the UTS bursary program.
Gautam Manohar '19 has been an active and engaged student at UTS, repeatedly earning awards in debate and language competitions. Thanks to our financial aid, he is able to find and build his passion and prepare himself for his next steps after graduation.
Sources: Jack Batten, UTS, 75 Years of Excellence, 1985 and Adam Chapnick, Through Our Eyes, 2004