Volume 95, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
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Witmer dishes out the tuition lip service

Winston has no DEX-terity?

Thanks buddy, we love ya too!

Witmer dishes out the tuition lip service

Re: "Liz Witmer kisses USC ass, promises change," Jan. 15

To the Editor:

Curious to know what Ontario's Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer had to say on the terror her party has inflicted on our post-secondary education system, I picked up The Gazette on Tuesday.

After getting through the lip service, I realized there was nothing new. If "accessibility and affordability" were truly her intentions, then not only would she categorically oppose the further deregulation of tuition fees, but she would also commit to a long-term strategy that would immediately freeze the out-of-control tuition fees and take steps to roll them back.

Among the many casualties inflicted by deregulation, Western medical students' tuition fees increased by $4,000 last year alone. Meanwhile, the so-called regulated programs are steadily increasing too.

The result is that, in the last decade, Ontario students have seen their tuition fees rise by 200 per cent. Think that's bad? Student debt has risen more than 300 per cent.

Students are bracing for an even more shocking picture as new data arrives. If all of this weren't enough, the rhetoric-spewing Witmer is considering introducing the infamous Income Contingent Loan Repayment Scheme (ICLRS).

The only purpose of this scheme is to help manage your student debt indefinitely. It does nothing to prevent it. In fact, wherever these schemes have been introduced in the past, they have been used to justify increased tuition.

In New Zealand, where this absurd scheme was implemented, student debt quickly surpassed their national debt. Although Erin McCloskey of the Ontario University Students' Association suggested in the same article that paying back student loans for 15 years seems reasonable, students don't agree.

Jesse Greener

VP-External, Society of Graduate Students

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Copyright The Gazette 2001