Hogtown U puts administration to task
By Mark Brown
A task force formed at the University of Toronto has recommended the school tell its students what future tuition levels will be and help them out financially.
The university task force on tuition and student aid has put forth two controversial recommendations to the administration on how to deal with the problem of accessibility to education and uncertainty about future costs.
"The most important finding is in the financial aid area," said Adel Sedra, provost and commissioner of the task force. To ensure no student qualified to study at Toronto is turned away due to financial reasons, a recommendation is being made to provide financial assistance to all students who require it, he explained.
"What can not be covered by the Ontario Student Assistance Program will be covered by U of T no other university has made such a claim," Sedra said.
The second recommendation is to tell students approximately how much their university career will cost them, after factoring in tuition increases, though the university could not offer guarantees. The intention of this recommendation is to reduce the amount of uncertainty out there, Sedra said.
Western VP-academic Greg Moran was not very supportive of the task force's recommendations and said one of the difficulties with projecting what the cost of tuition could be is that it might be exaggerated.
He also did not think universities providing financial aid is the answer. "We have to put more pressure on the government to increase funding."
Hoops Harrison, national director of the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations, said he believes this should not be one of the roles of the university. He said the government is responsible for financing and the university for academics.
He said dividing the problem is not the answer. "With each positive step by one of the players there is an inverse step by the other player," Harrison said. He added this could lead to more funding cuts.
What is needed is an agreement between the federal government, the provincial government, the universities and the students to lay out what the costs are and who should be responsible for them, Harrison said.
Ryan Parks, president of the University Students' Council, agrees with the idea that students should be told what to expect to pay for tuition and he is in favour of any form of financial aid.
Still, Parks said the government is getting off too easy. "I would encourage Western to do this, but I would not use this to justify a tuition increase student debt is too high," he said.