Volume 94, Issue 96

Thursday, March 22, 2001


Report takes schools to task

Mixed reviews for club caravan

FTAA hits home: Local activists joing forces

Mark Serre bids Western adieu

"Foxy" Western students make it big in the entrepreneurial world


Planet Me

Report takes schools to task

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

A new report on the state of post-secondary education in Ontario was released on Tuesday to the general approval of government, universities and students, but all three groups did not agree on what its most important findings were.

The 120-page report, called Portals and Pathways, was commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The study was prepared by private consultants and university administrators in September of 2000, confirmed ministry spokesperson Dave Ross.

The task force, charged with studying administrative operations in the province's universities and colleges over a four-month period, came back with 33 recommendations for increasing accessibility to students and accountability to taxpayers, Ross said.

In its press release, the government stressed the report's recommendations of transferring credits between schools, stream-lining student financial aid programs and the simplification of university information services.

"We're cautiously optimistic," said Ryan Parks, executive director of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. "We like the student focus of the task force and that they say every university should make a commitment to student services."

Still, Parks said while streamlining services is a good idea, the government must also increase post-secondary education funding. "The government is focusing on those few recommendations for increased efficiency," he said. "There needs to be a re-investment in the system.

"It's now up to the government, as to whether they want to accept the findings of the report and act on it," he said.

Paul Davenport, Western president and chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, said the report makes it clear Ontario universities are making good use of the funding they receive.

"They have given us a very clear endorsement on the efficiency of the way we are running our universities," Davenport said, adding he thinks the report "sets the stage" for an increased government funding commitment to help universities deal with rising enrollments.

"I'm very hopeful that we'll see that commitment in the [provincial] budget this spring," he said.

When asked about the report's suggestions that Ontario's post-secondary schools can become more efficient through greater collaboration, Davenport said universities already do a good deal of co-operating.

Dave Ross said no ministry decisions can be made on how to proceed with the report's recommendations until it has been thoroughly scrutinized.

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