Volume 96, Issue 19
Tuesday October 1, 2002

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Provincial figures wonky: double cohort underestimated

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

The Ontario government admits it may have underestimated the number of students graduating high school in time for next year's double cohort.

According to Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities documents obtained by The National Post, the government-forecasting model operates under the assumption that 60 per cent of current Grade 12 students will graduate this year.

The same documents reveal that a survey of those students suggest 89.2 per cent of Grade 12 students plan to graduate.

Dave Ross, communications advisor for the ministry, said the survey was conducted on students when they were in Grade 10, adding it is reasonable to assume they could have changed their minds.

"We now know ourselves that the number [of graduating students] may need to go up a bit," Ross said, adding it will not go up to 89 per cent.

"It's a major problem," said Henry Jacek, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. "The government hasn't budgeted enough money for the [double cohort]."

Jacek said there is a chance a lot of students might not get accepted into university next year.

"Right now 10 per cent of current students are not funded by the government," Jacek said. "This has resulted in larger class sizes and other problems."

"Over the last few years, the universities have said they won't accept students without [full funding]," Jacek added.

University Students' Council VP-education Josh Morgan said the real number of students in the double cohort will not be known until university applications are fully processed.

"The government's estimates [are] based on the double cohort as a whole. There's no possible way to know when the students of the double cohort will come," Morgan said, adding the government did not leave itself enough breathing room in its estimates.

David Estok, director of communications at Western, said the university is not aware of the numbers.

"We submitted our plan to the government some time ago," he said, adding every university was responsible for submitting plans for the double cohort.

"It included our projections on enrollment," Estok stated, adding Western is prepared to fulfill its expectations.

"We're going to have a space for every qualified student," Ross said, adding the government is prepared to handle bumps in the road.

"If this is just a little bump in the road," he said, "we will fix it."

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2002 THE GAZETTE