Volume 94, Issue 2

Friday, May 19, 2000


New student code of conduct drafted

UWOFA talks could mean deal

Private universities plan announced

New buildings put under microscope

Mental giants make presence felt at fair

Petition tries to rub out massage parlours

Prelude to an election

Council passes new arena proposal

Ravers get cold shower

Private universities plan announced

By Chris Lackner
& Aaron Wherry

Gazette Staff

A recent announcement by the provincial government concerning privately-funded universities has been met with a rash of criticism.

On April 29th, Ontario Colleges, Universities and Training Minister Dianne Cunningham, announced plans to investigate and then implement, private universities across the province. Kerry Delaney, spokesperson for Cunningham, said the move was made to expand the range of choice for students.

Delaney said a Quality Assurance Board will be formed and conciliation will take place with educators and citizens, to ensure a system for privately-funded universities is setup and maintained appropriately. She added, safeguards will be put in place to ensure students who do enter private universities will not suffer if the university is forced to close, or cannot continue service.

Joel Harden, Ontario chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, expressed disdain for the provincial government's plan. "If private universities and colleges enter Ontario, a two-tier education system will develop, which provides a better education to those with the greater size of wallet," he said.

Harden added the current university situation has more demand than supply – with not enough space for students. He said he feels claims that private universities will not cost taxpayers is not true. According to Harden, students at private schools will be allowed to apply for student loans and research grants, which come from the government and, in turn, taxpayers.

"Taxpayers will end up paying more for private universities than if we just increased the capacity of the current ones," he said. "Private universities are just a decoy. They'll only make things worse."

David Robinson, director of public policy for Canadian Association of University Teachers, also spoke negatively of the Tories' plan. "Generally we're quite concerned about the possibilities of privatization. It's bad news for education in this province. It's bad news for students and bad news for a public system which is desperate for funds."

Robinson added other problems should be addressed before private universities are pursued. "Accessibility was ignored in Dianne Cunningham's announcement. The public system is under-funded, student debt is rising and the student/faculty ratio is exploding due to the lack of hiring, combined with high student enrollment rates. The government's plans ignore all these things."

Jeff Sutton, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said he was fundamentally opposed to private universities. He worried public-funded universities may suffer and eventually die from the affects of a two-tier system.

Western's VP-academic, Greg Moran, said he doubted the provincial government would consider altering their plans, despite claims made by the Tories that public consultation would be done before private universities are put in place.

"[The government's plan] is a red herring – private universities are not going to be part of the solution," he said. "A poor education is not a bargain at any price."

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Copyright The Gazette 2000