Volume 95, Issue 1
Thursday, May 24, 2001
Med students now pay $14,000 per year
Earlier this month, despite the arguments of student representatives, Western's Board of Governors approved plans for 40% hike in medical school tuition in the university's 2001-2002 budget.
Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, said the tuition hike was necessary in order to maintain the quality of Western's medical school program. He cited a decade of government underfunding, high student/faculty ratios and the incoming double cohort as contributing factors to the rise in tuition.
"We are committed to ensuring accessibility," he explained, noting a large percentage of tuition fees are directly re-invested to students in the form of bursaries and student financial aid.
Anne Marie DeCicco, the mayor of London, as well as a member of BOG, cited her concern that escalating tuition fees might discourage students from lower socio-economic backgrounds from attending Western.
DeCicco questioned BOG on whether alternative revenue accumulating strategies were considered which could phase in the $14,000 tuition fee.
"We can only go so far and I believe we're approaching the limit of what we can charge all students at this university," she said.
Melissa Parker and Joel Adams, the two student governors on the board, argued for an alternative plan designed by the Medical Education Task Force on Tuition and Accessibility, which sought to level off all student's tuition at $11,000.
Parker argued three out of four current studies show that medical schools in Ontario are becoming inaccessible to those from poorer backgrounds. The results of one study she presented to the BOG showed that, in 1997, 47% of medical students came from families with an income of $60,000 or less, whereas in the class of 2000 the number had dropped to 14%.
Western's medical school tuition has climbed from $4,800 to $14,000 since the provincial government deregulated professional programs in 1997.
Danielle Martin, a second-year medical student at Western who is part of METTA, said the BOG's decision was a huge disappointment to medical students, adding the administration has proven it will not stand up for accessibility when backed into a corner.
She said that although the BOG decision is final, METTA will continue in its efforts to lobby the government to revise it's OSAP funding to match escalating tuition fees.
Tanya Cholakov, a media advisor in the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government has ensured universities provide financial aid to all those students whose tuition and ancillary fees are beyond $4,500.
"Universities and Colleges are required to set aside 30% of tuition increases for student aid," she said.
She said students who graduate from professional schools have a higher
earning capability and professional programs generally cost a university
more than a typical undergraduate program.
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