2003 sees applicants multiply
By Brendan Howe
Students applying to Ontario universities and colleges in 2003 may have a hard time getting in they could be competing against up to 45,000 more high school graduates than usual.
Due to the provincial government's reforms to high school, Grade 13 will be eliminated before the start of the 2002/03 school year resulting in two graduating classes instead of one and creating a "double cohort."
This could send admission averages soaring while the same number of students are let in something David Scott, spokesperson for the Council of Ontario Universities, said they are trying to prevent from happening.
"It really comes down to dollars. Right now Ontario universities are the worst funded in the Canadian system," he said.
To ensure equal accessibility to post secondary education for students graduating from high school in 2003, universities need more money to hire faculty, create additional lab and classroom space and the government must put aside more resources to help an increased strain on the student financial assistance plan, Scott said.
Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said the government is in the preliminary stages of finding ways to solve the problem and is looking at university funding. "It's a process we're starting well ahead of time because we want to make sure they have the same opportunity for post secondary education [as previous graduates]."
In 1999 the first high school class that has to get their degree in four years will enter Grade 9. Gauvin said the Ministry of Education is planning to change the curriculum so in the last two years of high school students will be streamed more towards what they want to do in university or college and what they plan to do as a career.
Western granted admission to just over 4,200 first-year students this year, which is its full capacity and it is doubtful this number could be increased, said Rob Tiffin, the university's registrar. "At this point in time there's been no discussion on increasing size."
He added some universities in the province will be able to increase the number of first-year students they admit because of recent declining enrollment but Western is not one of them. Tiffin explained the university is still waiting to find out the details of high school reform when it comes to actual curriculum.
Gary Waller, associate provost at the University of Waterloo, said the university has not decided how to handle the problem of increased applicants but they are currently operating at close to full capacity.
Similarly, the University of Toronto has yet to make any firm plans and is also operating at full capacity and has been for a few years, said VP and Provost Adam Sedra. Toronto admitted around 6,000 first-year students this year.``