By Karen Robbins
Last Friday, the Ontario Government released the details of a plan that will attempt to double enrolment in high technology programs at both the university and college level.
The program, entitled Access to Opportunities, is one of several budget measures by the provincial government focusing on post secondary education. The plan is to invest $150 million over the next three years in universities and colleges toward doubling undergraduate enrolment in computer science and high demand engineering programs.
Daniele Gauvin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, said the plan is set up as an incentive for schools to open positions in high-tech programs. Beginning in September, universities will receive an operating grant of $5,000 for each additional student enrolled in high demand engineering programs, $3,500 for each additional student enrolled in computer science programs and $2,000 for each new college student.
"To receive the money, the university must commit to double enrollment by the year 2000," Gauvin said.
"There are 20,000 positions open in the high-tech industry that are not being filled," she added.
Every dollar universities or colleges raise from the private sector will also be matched by the government to a maximum of $120 million in total.
Andrew Boggs, incoming executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, said the government's plan will not just affect computer science and engineering programs. "Other programs such as humanities and social science will have to lose either space or enrolment positions to accommodate the increase in students."
There are several things that will have to be worked out before Western takes any action, said Mohan Mathur, dean of engineering. "We must determine if the funding for doubling enrollment can be achieved on a sustainable basis and we must make an equitable assessment of the risks."