Volume 94, Issue 43

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000


Paul Martin goes to market

Welfare drug testing a possibility

Newfoundland tries to shock smokers

U of Michigan student dies after 20 shots of scotch

Campus Briefs

Maclean's says Ontario schools lagging

Corroded Disorder

Maclean's says Ontario schools lagging

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

According to the annual Maclean's university rankings, the province of Ontario is slowly falling behind national standards.

Although four of the top five universities, which include Western, McGill University, Queen's University and the University of Toronto, are located in Ontario, the rankings also indicate nine out of 17 Ontario-based universities have slipped in their standing since last year's Maclean's report.

Maclean's assistant managing editor, Anne Dowsett Johnston, said a reason for the slippage in the ranks could be attributed to the Ontario Tory government's funding cutbacks to post-secondary institutions.

Close to $3 billion in cuts to to post-secondary institutions have taken place across Canada throughout the 1990's, she said.

"The Harris government's Super Build project has only addressed bricks and mortar," she said, adding cuts to operating costs and faculty shortages paint a dire picture for the future of education in Ontario.

Dave Braun, Western's University Students' Council President, said if Ontario was brought up to national standards, its operating budget would increase by $50 million and it would have to hire 327 new professors. He said Ontario currently has the highest national student/faculty ratio.

"The government says the funding will come with the influx of new students, but it's already too late," he said. "Other provinces have recognized the need to invest in higher education, but Ontario has badly lagged behind."

Erin George, President of the Canadian Federation of Students, said she believes the Super Build Growth Fund project mainly benefits research-intensive institutions.

She said remote universities and colleges which focus more on education instead of research have been left out in the cold.

Out of 60 states and provinces in North America, Ontario ranks 59th in post-secondary funding, she added.

"Ontario is one of the richest provinces in the country," she stated. "Why is the government not prioritizing post-secondary education? It takes time to upgrade services, hire faculty and build residences. If this government continues forward on its path, close to 90,000 students may not have spaces [during the double-cohort]."

Still, Kerry Delaney, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said criticism aside, Ontario is still leading the pack. "Ontario universities performed phenomenally well in the Maclean's study."

She noted Ontario placed three universities in the top five amongst all three ranking categories, including undergraduate, medical/doctoral and comprehensive institutions.

Delaney said the provicial government has committed large amounts of funding into post-secondary education, including $1 billion in capital expansion, $73 million in operating grants and $73 million in performance funding.

The Ministry, along with the Ontario Council of Universities, has forecasted an 88,000 enrollment growth in Ontario by 2005-2006, she said, adding she feels the province will be well prepared for the influx of students.

Delaney said the government is involved in continuing discussion with the post-secondary officials in order to properly address the changing needs of the educational system.

Western's VP-administration, Peter Mercer, said many of the areas Maclean's investigates are affected by operating budgets and funding cuts.

Mercer said a factor such as library holdings can be directly altered by budget cuts and in this way, government funding can have an influence on the rankings.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000