2003 spells double trouble for universities and colleges
By Paul-Mark Rendon
Although it seems years away, preparations for the huge wave of applicants to post secondary institutions in 2003 must be started now if they're to be handled with any efficiency.
The erasure of the OAC year from high school curriculums next fall means double the number of students will be graduating in the year 2003.
Consequently, double the number of students will apply to colleges and universities, said Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training.
In an attempt to effect a smooth transition, the Ministry of Education has formed a joint university/college working group to advise schools on what they can do to alleviate students from what has been termed the "double-cohort crunch."
The financial savings gained by cutting down to four years would be re-invested in the Ontario Student Assistant Program and school funding, Gauvin said.
As for the specifics of the plan, Gauvin could not elaborate. "We're not there yet, models to predict actual numbers are still being developed."
Deputy registrar Rob Tiffin said Western is unsure of how the number of applicants will be handled. "We've yet to see what will happen. Many universities are at excess capacity right now," he said. The current first year enrolment target at UWO is 4,000 students, which is reflective of maximum resources.
Tiffin said the university is anticipating more of a provincial response to the issue.
John Sherman, a guidance counsellor at Langstaff Secondary School, said high schools are not fully prepared for the crunch. "High schools have nothing planned with no curriculum changes and no word on funding from the government."
Sherman believes the erasure of OAC may not be a great idea. "I think the removal of OAC is actually a hindrance to students' development. It gives them another breath to decide what to do."
The only positive point Sherman could make about the ministry's changes was the full disclosure aspect of designation-driven courses. "Full disclosure is a real benefit for universities who will now know how many times someone took a course and whether it was in summer, at night or during the regular year," he said.
Ashley Gluck, a first-year administrative and commercial studies student at Western, said she believes the removal of the OAC year could have detrimental effects. "OAC is like a free first year of university, it gave me a chance to figure out what I wanted."