Volume 93, Issue 81

Friday, March 3, 2000


Poll supports fight for student funding

Internet business boom

Opposition surrounds UWOFA part-timers

Province to make no promises on lower gas tax

Church plans to apologize for past

Scientists not just cloning around


Caught on campus

Caught on campus, again

Poll supports fight for student funding

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

Eighty-two per cent of Ontario residents oppose tuition increases at post-secondary institutions, said an Angus Reid poll released yesterday.

The Angus Reid Group survey, commissioned by The Globe and Mail and the Global Television network, showed Ontario's opinion on a number of topics concerning colleges and universities, such as potential tuition increases, establishing private universities and the value of a university degree.

"I was pleasantly surprised," said Ryan Parks, executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. "I didn't know the general public had that much of an opinion on the topic.

"It's important to know they support our message that the education sector is becoming prohibitive. The government needs to face up to their responsibility to the public of funding education."

According to Parks, tuition has risen 60 per cent during Mike Harris' term as premier. "[The government] has not proven their commitment to post-secondary education," he said.

He added he believed a larger operating grant, increased government regulation of tuition and more student aid would help keep tuition costs down and alleviate the financial burden of students.

Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government had taken significant steps to allow all students continued access to Ontario's colleges and universities.

"We require universities to use 30 per cent of the revenue they gain from tuition increases on improving student aid accessibility," Delaney said.

She also pointed to a provincial grant which limited a student's yearly debt load to $7,000 and the Aiming For The Top scholarships, which would be awarded this fall, as proof that the provincial government was taking action.

Press secretary Pierre Leduc said Harris defended tuition increases by stating he believed students needed to contribute up to 35 per cent of university funding or universities risked being under-funded.

Mark Kissel, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said he believed the burden students faced was too much. He cited Statistics Canada data which showed the student debt load increased 134 per cent between 1992 and 1998 – from $9,000 to $25,000. He also said Ontario ranked last out of the 10 provinces in terms of educational funding per capita.

Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic, said he was not shocked by the public's opposition to tuition increases. "Given the kind of increases we faced it doesn't surprise me at all," Moran said. "The government has withdrawn, in a dramatic way, public [financial] support of education. Universities are forced to raise tuition because we need to get those funds from somewhere."

Other poll results showed 49 per cent of Ontarians opposed the establishment of private universities, while 48 per cent supported it. Also, 71 per cent of citizens with a university degree thought post-secondary education funding should be increased. Only 59 per cent of those with a college education and 52 per cent with high school education supported increased funding.

Research assistant Peter Weylie of Angus Reid said the survey was taken from a random sample of adult Ontarians and was conducted by phone. The poll of 1,000 respondents had a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000