UWO dealt blow by province
TA strike looms at Toronto U
Ad hoc committee fails in close Senate vote
Four year BAs and BScs considered
A week of false alarms and theft
Report reveals funding concern
Caught on campus
UWO dealt blow by province
By Paul-Mark Rendon
At Friday's Senate meeting, Western braced itself to swallow a possible $400,000 pill as part of its share of slashes to the upcoming provincial budget.
In an attempt to balance Ontario's books, management board chair Chris Hodgson announced a $300 million wave of spending reductions last Thursday, including a $90 million cut to administrative spending.
The post-secondary share of the cuts amount to a .2 per cent reduction in the $2.3 billion currently spent on operating grants. According to Western president Paul Davenport, the university's share falls in the range of $300,000 to $400,000. He expressed his opposition to the cuts at the Senate meeting.
"I'm with Davenport on this one," said Mark Kissel, VP-education for the University Students' Council. "We just don't know how it's going to affect us whether it be through staff numbers or other essential services ultimately, it's going to affect students and that's not good," he said.
However, Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said the drive behind the cuts was to remove any duplications in administration would slow down the entire system. "Last week, we did announce a number of things to promote efficiency so we can target taxpayers' money where it best serves the public good," she said.
Delaney added the Ministry would also be taking a two-pronged approach to reducing fraud in the Ontario Students Assistance Program process, with tougher measures on credit checks, as well as applicants' income verification.
Christina Lederman, manager of Western's Financial Aid office, said the Ministry's attempts to streamline the system may mean well, but are more punitive than productive. "From my perspective, I see students who are very emotional when they are denied access to government loans and wonder why the government has turned its back on them," she said.
Lederman explained while the more stringent OSAP application requirements will affect a relatively small number of students at Western less than 10 per cent the measures will nonetheless restrict choices for individuals who want to go to school. "Systematically, what it is doing is cutting access," she said, explaining students with bad credit tend to be mature students trying to re-build their lives by futhering their education.
Davenport agreed access would be compromised. "The problem is the policy here is unsound. There is an accessibility issue raised here," he said.
However, Delaney said students who have good a credit rating and do not cheat on their applications, should not be penalized alongside those who understate their incomes or cannot repay their loans.
"We are committed to having every qualified and willing student attend university if they wish to do so. That's our primary commitment and [it] guides our processes here," she said.