Students warned to be wary
By Lindsay Isaac
The New Democratic Party's plan to re-regulate tuition and reduce it by 10 per cent as well as increase government grants by $140 million, has turned many heads especially those of students.
Before the excitement sets in, however, be wary as there are still some unanswered questions, said Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council.
Iozzo said he believes the plan is a good start, but is concerned with exactly what the NDP has in mind involving re-regulation.
According to Shelia White, manager of media relations for NDP leader Howard Hampton, the proposal is the first of several upcoming election promises regarding post secondary education finances. "The 10 per cent reduction is only one in a series of hard and fast commitments in the run up to the next election." The rest are to follow in time, she said.
Although students may appreciate a tuition decrease, it is unclear what the NDP has in mind for those in faculties such as dentistry or medicine.
"A 10 per cent decrease in tuition for an undergraduate student, would mean a drop by $400, which is significant. For a med student, however, a 10 per cent decrease is not something to be overjoyed about considering their significantly higher fees," Iozzo said.
Other areas of question in the NDP's proposal regard the promise by Hampton to improve student assistance programs, something which was not fully explained. "How the NDP plans to reform [the Ontario Student Assistant Program] has still not been made clear," Iozzo said.
Peter Mercer, VP-administration at Western, said the restoring of government grants from the province to make the move up to the Canadian average is significant. "This is definitely a move in the right direction, as the previous trends have leaned to the decrease in post secondary education funding compared to other elements in the public sector."
He said the increase in tuition is a direct result of the cutbacks in provincial grants. The proposed funding would make up for the cuts, but the decreased tuition effects would have to be examined before any consensus is reached, he said.
Mercer added re-regulation is an area which has not yet been approved, as costs must be fully investigated. "We don't like having to scrabble for funds," Mercer said.
"The NDP does, however, have to be applauded for being responsible in making a clear position."
Questions aside, the tuition proposal has brought about positive responses, Shelia White said. "This is a victory for all students and parents in Ontario, especially for those who feel that a post secondary education is out of reach due to lack of finances," she added.