Editorial Board 1999-2000
It's finally happened. Believe it or not, after years of student protests and lobbying, the provincial government has decided to put the brakes on tuition increases.
Over the next five years, tuition will only be allowed to increase by two per cent per year in all non-professional programs. It makes one wonder, what took so long in the first place? The government has come out and said the decision was born out from an increasing need to make education more accessible and not due to the lobbying efforts of student groups, but that's not entirely true. If it weren't for the protesting students, this decision would not likely have been made.
This is the first time the Harris government has done something to put money back in the pockets of struggling post-secondary students and they deserve a pat on the back.
Last month, Western received $45 million from the SuperBuild Growth Fund for capital spending and now, with comparatively lower tuition increases to look forward to, it seems the quality of life at Western will slowly increase to benefit students.
Western's administration, who made a point of saying the move might be detrimental, explained they would be losing out on precious revenue which would adversely affect everything from textbooks to teachers. Still, with double the amount of students paying tuition in the coming years, it's important to keep in mind revenue will not be decreased as much as one would think.
Administration fails to see that through this mandated minimal increase, students who would normally be on the borderline of attending or not attending university because of cost will have a better chance of getting their collective feet in the door. The extra $500 or $600 in the pockets of students will inevitably draw more people into the university experience.
So what should students do now? Rest on our laurels, or continue to lobby the government? The obvious answer is, of course, continue to lobby. All may be quiet on the tuition front for the time being, but in five years there could be another huge increase which follows these small ones. A perspective rooted in skepticism is still the best bet to ensure the limit doesn't skyrocket in five years.
Those entering university now will have a five year assurance their tuition won't increase. It's about time the government gave a little back to a group which has been gouged with tuition increases and commensurably less funding.
What students now have to look out for is the increased commercialization by universities looking to compensate for any potential decrease to future revenue. While this bodes well in the short term, students can not take their focus off the future of post-secondary education.