This afternoon Western's operating budget for next year is on the table for Senate approval and with tuition for some programs possibly increasing to more than twice their current rates, the situation for students could go from bad to unbearable.
Have we forgotten the purpose of universities in Ontario?
The purpose is not to operate them as a business. The intention is not to have institutions which set astronomically high tuition fees because the market will bear them. Universities exist to provide accessible post secondary education for those who require it.
If the goals of this university have changed lately, maybe someone should bring a motion to the Senate meeting today to change the name of this institution to the Business of Western Ontario. Having students pay $8,000, $10,000 or $14,000 for a university education is absolutely ridiculous.
The current student loan system in this province is borderline pathetic but despite constant promises, nothing has been done to fix it. The Ontario budget is a good example of this. The government has promised to reorganize student loans but merely shuffling the dollar bills in a wallet isn't going to buy more food more money needs to be put into the wallet.
Accessibility is going to become a catch-phrase of the past. Only rich kids will be able to afford tuition hikes and our precious "Country Club U" stereotype is going to become even more prevalent. Do we want a university of students who are here because of how deep their parents' pockets are?
Universities need to enroll the most talented students who come from all economic classes.
Although the problem originates with government funding, some members of Western's administration like to believe it ends there but this is not the case. The problem also rests with the universities.
Differential fees should not be in place.
Deregulating programs will discourage promising students because they will not be able to bear the debt-load. If Western increases fees as much as they are proposing, going to this university will become a financial decision, not one based on what the best avenue for someone's future is. Universities, but especially governments, should realize that these unfair increases are abandoning one of essential tenets of Canada's constitutional principles equality of opportunity.
It is likely that tuition will continue to increase but it is the job of universities to try and control this. When tuition increases it should be gradual and not a $5,000 jump with just three and half months notice.
Both government and university administrators need to step back and take a look at what is happening to universities they are being destroyed.