Volume 94, Issue 89

Friday, March 9, 2001


NEWS

Ice T concert melts down - Poor sales, schedule conflict cited for cancellation

Car crash sends two to hospital

Bigger gut may equal smaller brain: study

StatsCan study says student debt doesn't stop schooling

Gov't considers limiting cell usage

Study identifies Net addiction

Gun violence in schools in must stop

Planet Me

StatsCan study says student debt doesn't stop schooling

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

Hefty debt loads have not prevented Canadian university students from pursuing graduate studies, according to a new report from Statistics Canada that was received with skepticism by student groups.

"That's the robust finding, that [student debt] doesn't seem to be a preventative of students going on," said George Butlin, senior research analyst at Statistics Canada and the author of the study.

Butlin said his research involved examining the survey responses of over 5,000 Canadian university students who completed undergraduate degrees in 1990. He added he also conducted follow-up interviews with the respondents to determine whether they had gone on to do a masters or PhD.

The conclusion he drew was, while students with debts over $15,000 were not more likely to become graduate students than others, the debt did not seem to be an impediment to them either, he said.

But Fern Gauthier, president of Western's Society of Graduate Students, said the findings should be taken with a sizable grain of salt.

While the numbers might be representative of what was happening in 1990, he said, major cuts to public education funding and the deregulation of graduate programs since that time makes the study inapplicable to current students.

"Two thirds of the people they're looking at entered [graduate programs] before deregulation," Gauthier said, adding graduate tuition rates have gone up in Ontario between 71-116 per cent depending on the program since 1993-94.

At the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, spokesperson Kerry Delaney said the study confirms the government is maintaining and improving accessibility to university education.

"To us, that Stats Canada report is not surprising," Delaney said, "We've always known that Ontario's post-secondary institutions are accessible to students."

Delaney also said that at 35 per cent, Ontario's university participation rate among 18-24 year-olds is the highest it has ever been in the province's history. She added while the government currently allows two per cent increases in regulated tuition rates each year, it also stipulates 30 per cent of the revenue generated through those increases must be redirected into student aid.

In addition to SOGS, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations was also skeptical about the study's findings.

"Student debt levels are one of the primary focuses of our campaign this year because they are soaring out of control," said Kieran Green, CASA's communications co-ordinator.


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