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Waterloo announces hike
By Lindsay Isaac
Western students concerned with rising tuition costs can take comfort in knowing other university students are also feeling financial strain.
The University of Waterloo has announced plans to raise tuition fees by 19 per cent for engineering, computer science and optometry. The majority of undergraduate and graduate programs are facing increases of 9 per cent.
Robin Steward, VP-education of Waterloo's Federation of Students, said he is disappointed by the proposed increases. "This is the first time at Waterloo programs have been differentiated by price. This is a dangerous road and it will only get worse," he said.
The increases are based on the assumption engineering and the other programs facing a 19 per cent increase will have a higher future earning potential, Steward said. "The future income of engineers or optometrists is looked at as a group.
"These changes [in tuition] could put students who already have accumulated a high debt in a worse situation," he explained.
Steward said the mood of students on campus is split between a resignation from the university to outright anger. "The student body is pragmatic, some students are accepting while others have expressed outrage," he said.
Jim Kalbfleisch, Waterloo's VP-academic, said tuition increases are the only option. "If we are going to maintain the quality of programs we need revenue," he said. "We have looked at other universities in terms of increases and we are still well positioned relative to other universities."
Kalbfleisch added he too is worried about how students will be affected, however, due to lack of government support there are no other options. "A degree from Waterloo is still a bargain."
Rob Savage, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, said the increases in tuition have not affected enrolment in Ontario universities. "People recognize the quality education provided by Ontario universities. We have some of the best universities in North America and this quality has maintained a keen interest." The tuition increases are autonomous from the Ministry which ensures four per cent of increases go to improvements made for the students, he said.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, said he feels the nine per cent increase at Waterloo is in line with universities across the province. "The 19 per cent increases for the engineers and others can be justified by Waterloo as they have a well respected program which results in good employment."
Moran said this indicates universities are badly in need of funding. "Waterloo's rationale is good and the approach is one we have to take at Western."