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In the city
Tory backlash raises concern
By Stephanie Cesca
Tuition hikes and decreased funding are the concerns of several university students across the province, since Premier Mike Harris and the Progressive Conservative party was re-elected as a majority government last week.
In the education sector of the budget set by the Tories prior to the election, post-secondary institutions were made a number of promises, such as $742 million for capital spending.
Rob Savage, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said university students are in good hands and promises made prior to the election will be kept. "It's one thing to make promises, but it's another to pay for them," he said.
Savage added changes such as an increased undergraduate enrolment and higher demands for teachers and nurses are in store for universities. These changes are ones which Harris and his government can prepare for best, he said.
However, Joel Harden, Ontario chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, warned students of the potential detriment the Tories pose to university tuition rates.
Harden said university students could face hiked tuition fees, American-style loan systems and the de-regulation of programs.
Although Harden credited Harris in winning the majority of the seats fairly, he said the majority of citizens may not support Harris. "He has a majority government that didn't actually win a majority of the vote," he said.
In order to get the majority of student opinions voiced in the province, CFS has begun a campaign called Access 2000. "It's a campaign designed to raise the profile of issues that concern students," Harden said. The major student concern, he added, is tuition.
Paul Nesbitt-Larking, a political science professor at Western, said the Tories did not focus on lowering tuition in their budget because the PC government leans more towards market solutions, which entail improved loan programs and more scholarships. This results in a de-emphasis of state solutions, or lower tuition rates, which is where the Tories draw harsh criticism.
"As far as I'm concerned, as long as they stick to the principles of democratic self-governance, that's fine with me," he said.
SzeJack Tan, University Students' Council President, said he is disappointed with Harris' recent decision not to sign a pledge developed by university students across Ontario to promise to raise funding to the national average. "Some people are very unhappy with what's happening," he said.
"I don't like a lot of the cuts Mike Harris is making," said Sayeda Painda, a second-year computer science student. "The reason why I'm concerned is people in computer science and engineering are going to have to pay a lot more tuition next year."