Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Spending not Liberal enough

Ontario Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty was at Western yesterday to discuss his political platform for the looming provincial election.

McGuinty has revealed aspects of his healthcare and financial platforms, but post-secondary education has yet to be addressed by the Liberal leader.

During the last provincial election in 1999, the Liberals' platform committed to a wide range of policies to improve our province's post-secondary education system, including a significant tuition reduction. While tuition reduction may not be a realistic goal, there are many post-secondary issues that need to be addressed by political leaders.

With tuition continually on the rise and the decreasing accessibility to sufficient student aid through the Ontario Student Assistance Program, the financial burden on university students is climbing.

Government assistance programs should be taking increasing tuition costs into consideration. The amount of money a student can receive, as well as the criteria for which students are granted an OSAP loan, are areas in dire need of reform. In most cases, needy students are receiving less money than they were in years past, and, in many cases, fail to qualify for aid.

If the OSAP program was running efficiently and fairly, then perhaps small tuition increases would not have as significant an impact on individual students.

The Liberals' new campaign idea of pre-paid tuition – in which parents can begin to invest in their children's post-secondary education when they are at a young age and the government will provide the funding for any accumulated tuition increases, fails to address the real problem and seems to presuppose large, future tuition increases.

Furthermore, the increasing number of students attending university not only requires more classrooms and residences, but the staff and operating funds to keep campuses running smoothly.

The current Progressive Conservative government has been infusing money into universities through SuperBuild to expand physical space for students. However, neither the Tories nor the Liberals, have addressed the extra costs associated with university operating budgets. The burden is being put on the individual universities – and their students – to pick up the slack.

Maybe we can not be realistically promised a tuition reduction, or even a tuition freeze – but there are other areas that can be realistically addressed to our benefit.

Generally, only 25 per cent of students vote in elections, which is perhaps why issues related to post-secondary education are often ignored by politicians. Perhaps, by heading to the polls in the coming election, we can force politicians, such as McGuinty, to speak beyond the usual round of political rhetoric.




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