Mad meds to march
Stabbing was self-inflicted
Grade of law improves
Mt. A strike stalemate
Province-wide tests possible
Pies fly in protest of CASA
Naimji focussed on the student body
Stimulating Valentine's Day
Caught on campus
Mad meds to march
By Caroline Greene
Medical students across Ontario will protest at Queen's Park today in a march planned to increase public awareness about rising tuition costs.
"Fees are becoming too high for lower and middle class students to afford," said Shiva Jayaraman, president of Western's medical class of 2002. The march was organized by Western students dismayed by the university's plans to increase tuition without studying access to medical education, he added.
Students are seeking an immediate freeze on tuition, its reregulation and a study on the accessibility of medical school to lower and middle class Canadians, Jayaraman said.
Last year after the province deregulated tuition, Western increased its medical school tuition by over 100 per cent to the highest in Ontario $10,000 plus almost $1,000 in student fees. The university is now recommending an increase in tuition to $11,000 next year and $12,000 the following year.
"Quality health care will be compromised," said Paul Winston, a Western medical student. He said he believes the university has exploited the government's deregulation of tuition fees.
However, the increase last year was overdue, said Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic. He added the medical school's tuition is being treated the same as other fees at Western which will also see increases next year.
Moran faulted the government for not responding with a better loan program or changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Plan. The government, however, has increased bursaries and loans, said Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training. The university decides where to increase tuition but they must allocate one-third of the increase to student aid and show the government what will be done with the money and how it will improve education quality, she added.
OSAP currently recognizes only a maximum tuition of $4,500, forcing medical students to borrow from banks and face $100,000 loans upon completion of medical school, Winston said. To make matters worse, working during medical school is almost impossible because of the long days and heavy work-load and the summers are shorter, Winston said.
"Equal access to health care and education are two essential Canadian institutions," Jayaraman said. Winston said he also feels rural communities, where people are less likely to be able to afford the high cost of tuition, will particularly be hit.
While he supported the student protest, which will help raise awareness of the gross underfunding Ontario universities face, Moran said he does not feel medical school is becoming inaccessible to low and middle income students. However, he said he does feel it's something to worry about and believed the key is effective student aid programs.
"We at the university are doing everything we can to ensure there is financial aid available for students," Moran said. He added $1 million will be reinvested over the next three years directly into the faculty to hire more professors and support the curriculum.