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Admin proposes huge tuition hikes
By Wes Brown
Students in professional programs could be preparing to hike to their tuition levels, as the recommended fees for the 2001-2002 school year have been released and the numbers are indicating increases of over 50 per cent in some programs.
University Students' Council VP-education, Jeff Sutton, brought the preliminary numbers to council at the Feb. 14 USC meeting, and said the report is just to bring attention to the increases.
Under administration's proposed changes, increases in first-year honours business administration tuition would see fees climb to $14,000 from the current $9,000. Dentistry students will see their tuition upped 12 per cent to $15,680. First-year law students would have their fees rise to $7,500 while medical students will have theirs inflated to $14,000.
Sutton said he is currently discussing the hikes with some of the student faculty presidents, but added the USC has been working extensively with the university on this topic.
"I've told them that the [USC] troops are ready to be called in if they need us," he said, adding Ontario is the lowest government funded area, on a per student basis, in all of North America.
Legal Society president, Michael Rubinoff, said he is very concerned about the proposed increases, but added the concern stems from the provincial government's funding stance on post-secondary education.
Rubinoff said 60 per cent of law tuition is returned to the law school, something that did not used to happen. "This money has been used to hire additional faculty, improve infrastructure and offer more scholarships," he said.
While he believes these increases will be passed at the Senate meeting in March, Rubinoff said it does not mean his council will back down from the government and their lack of funding.
Dave Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said students should keep in mind that these degrees have been deregulated for three years now. "It's really up to the university to set the levels of tuition rates programs," he said, adding no institution is forced to raise their tuition fees.
Ross said students in professional programs are forced to pay more because at the end of their studies, graduates are finding well-paying jobs. "Graduates are in a good position to pay back their debt accumulated at university," he said. "Students should have to pay a portion of their education, keeping in mind the balance comes from the tax payer."
Greg Moran, Western's VP-academic, said the administration is handcuffed when it comes to tuition levels, as this year's budget shows Western's costs are exceeding revenues.
"We've been working with the deans, and they have stated that if they are going to remain competitive then they need more revenue," he said. "These are expensive programs that demand the best resources, and the fact of the matter is there is simply no money anywhere else."
Moran said he did not expect students to applaud the proposed increase and knows it will cause anxiety.
Still, he said he hoped students would listen to the arguments and understand why the hike is called for. "Ontario universities are dramatically underfunded there is a serious crisis occurring in this province," he said.