Tuition increase at hand in '98
By Brendan Howe
Students at Western and across the province could be facing a 20 per cent increase in tuition over the next two years as a result of an announcement made by the Ontario government over the holidays.
The university's Board of Governors will have the ability to hike tuition up to 10 per cent next year and the same amount the year after as a result of deregulation.
"I think it's terrible. I'm extremely frustrated with [the government's] decision," said University Students' Council President Ryan Parks. He added he was curious to know how the government was going to deal with the increased strain that tuition increases will have on the student debt problem and students defaulting on their loans.
Western's President Paul Davenport said he is supportive of the government announcement because of the deregulation of tuition. "Western has been calling for the Board of Governors to have more control over our fees."
He added he is, however, disappointed the government decided to impose a two-year grant freeze on all Ontario universities.
Ontario universities will have the ability over the next two years to raise tuition five per cent each year for quality in education and another five per cent each year for programs, provided they explain to the Ministry of Education what it is for, said Daniele Gauvin, Ministry of Education spokesperson.
"The province is recognizing the post-secondary sector needs increased resources to provide eduction," she said. Gauvin added the government has committed itself to make large changes in student assistance.
Hoops Harrison, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said the solution to the problem of revenue for Ontario universities is not to raise tuition. He added on a national scale Ontario ranks among the top three provinces when it comes to tuition with Nova Scotia coming in first.
The Canadian Federation of Students is planning a national day of action to protest tuition levels. Wayne Poirier, CFS chair for Ontario, said students at campuses across the country will be taking part in various forms of protest.
He said his group is also planning to meet on Jan. 14 to discuss strategies to pressure university Boards of Governors around the country not to increase tuition.
Parks said he does not know yet what action the USC will take but it will be discussed in a council meeting tonight. He added a virtual sit-in, like the one that took place last year, is out of the question because Information Technology Services at Western would disconnect all USC operations from the Internet and email services it provides them.