Urgent plea to freeze tuition
By Dave Yasvinski
Western's medical and dental students were given the opportunity to speak out against tuition increases at a public meeting of the Campus and Community Affairs Committee Monday.
Medical students are upset by the deregulation of their program which would see tuition levels rise from just under $5,000 per year to $10,000 per year. Accompanying these hikes is a $1,500 fee for students entering medical residency programs next year.
Herbert Brill, external junior VP of the hippocratic council of the faculty of medicine and dentistry, pleaded with the administration to freeze tuition and revoke the residency fee until the impact these changes will have on program accessibility is examined.
"It's going to take a few years until we see the full effects of [deregulation] it will have an impact on high school students," Brill said.
A study needs to be conducted to investigate the effect these increases will have before more are made, Brill said. The debt load medical students will accumulate as a result of this could have a negative impact on the residency program, he added.
"Residents are the front line troops of health care. If they are distracted by financial problems this may affect health care," Brill said.
"This mounting debt load will limit accessibility," warned Isabel Martin, director of the Medical Education Taskforce on Tuition and Accessibility. "Western is becoming a selection for the wealthier."
University President Paul Davenport said Western has made a commitment to the government to make sure eligible students are not denied access to bank loans. "The university is concerned about access everywhere we are increasingly concerned about undergrads," he said.
Daniel Rabinovitch, also a director of METTA, said because no one knows which factors determine accessibility, the university should proceed with caution. "We need to examine every factor to see exactly what extent it lowers access and not use a knee-jerk approach of doubling tuition," he said.
Rabinovitch also claimed the university is profiting from medical students. "Tuition should be restored to a level where the university is no longer making a profit off medical students," he said.
Jim Etherington, chair of the committee, questioned the formulas Rabinovitch used to arrive at this conclusion. He said the suggestion the university is penalizing one group over another bothered him personally. "Are you saying the method we are using ascribes costs in an inaccurate way?"
Rabinovitch responded by saying he did not believe this was done intentionally. "I don't believe they personally devised misrepresentative calculations," he said.
Because the method Rabinovitch used to ascertain how much money is used to educate a medical student incorporated relatively new data, Etherington suggested more analysis was needed.
The committee will make its recommendations to the Property and Finance Committee who will in turn make a recommendation to the Board of Governors who will examine the request on Oct. 29.