Editorial Board 1998-99
As the millennium approaches, both the provincial and federal governments are placing more emphasis on industry and dismissing the value of higher education.
With the announcement of the deregulation of tuition fees in this past summer's budget, the provincial government told post secondary institutions they would have free reign over the setting of their tuition fees, providing they doubled enrolment in subjects including engineering and computer sciences by the 2000/01 school term. There was no mention made of arts or social science programs.
The Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund has recently matched a $2.4 million research grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation's New Opportunities program. This $4.8 million is being geared towards research projects which will benefit industry and the economy. There were no millions handed out by these funds for literary research.
After having allowed a tuition increase to any program, the government is only attempting to help students get into the technological and scientific areas of study by way of grants to post secondary institutions. The idea behind this is so the programs may appeal more to potential students. The question then arises, why wouldn't the university simply not increase tuition in the arts and social sciences to deter those students from applying to those faculties?
Although it is true there are many government-funded programs in which arts and other non-technically based students are able to apply for grants, it seems the government is pushing arts students aside and demeaning their importance by handing money over to universities for funding in technical and science-based programs.
In doing so, more secondary school students will be forced to consider fields of study which may not be their first choice or preference. What kind of message will this send to students who chose to study in the areas of arts and social sciences? After all, if the government does not think these subjects are worth funding as much as others, why should any potential post secondary school student choose to study them?
The world economy needs more than just industry to survive. While the industry is important, the government must consider the impact its policies will have on culture and the necessary role arts and humanities have in that society.