Volume 92, Issue 88

Tuesday, March 16, 1999


Safety knifed again

Pot set to blow back onto shelves

VP wants another year

Future of Ontario's universities indicated

Project gives concrete lesson to engineers

Recycling services to rise not reduce

Wine brings cheap health


Caught on campus

Future of Ontario's universities indicated

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

In an inter-provincial meeting of the minds, delegates from various education circles converged on London this past weekend to discuss the future of Ontario universities.

In its first general assembly meeting of 1999, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance played host to a score of representatives discussing issues which questioned the quality of a university education. Those in attendance included Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dianne Cunningham and Western President Paul Davenport.

Among the main issues tabled, the province-wide implementation of key performance indicators, which are methods of measuring the success of universities, took precedence. While currently being used for community colleges, Andrew Boggs, OUSA's executive director, said the alliance is opposed to the use of the indicators for Ontario universities.

"The [provincial] government would end up using it as a way of driving funding," Boggs said. He added the indicators would allow the government to be overly selective about funding, causing universities to eventually become specialized.

Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council, agreed. "We're all in favour of accountability. Our concern is tying this to funding," Iozzo said. He added the indicators could potentially justify the closure of Western's law school or teacher's college in a rationalized sweep of specialization.

Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, also expressed concern over the possible narrowing of activities, but concluded Western supports and endorses the concept. "We would want to quibble with some of [the indicators] individually," he said.

Another key issue discussed was quality improvement plans, which allow universities to justify tuition increases if they outline specific plans for improving educational quality.

Iozzo said Western's plan is somewhat buried within the university's directives. "[Western] has made several million dollars in hikes but it was all documented in only two pages," he said.

"At the end of the year, there is nothing that says [Western's administration] did what they said they would do," Iozzo added.

Boggs shared Iozzo's sentiments, saying quality improvement plans require further discussion.

Rick Frame, communications officer for the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs, said Cunningham was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. He added her efforts to improve mobility within education and standard recognition in any province, met with overall agreement.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999