Volume 96, Issue 64
Thursday, January 23, 2003

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Double cohort tally
Universities short by 10,000

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Preliminary figures on the number of university applications were released yesterday, and the results are staggering.

As of Jan. 15, 515,983 applications were received at the Ontario Universities Application Centre, representing an 84.3 per cent increase over the previous year.

In a media scrum last week, Dianne Cunningham, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said up to 10,000 more spaces might need to be created, at an approximate cost of $60 million to the provincial government, confirmed Dave Ross, spokesperson for the ministry.

"[The 10,000] is a ballpark – at this point we are still looking at all this," Ross said. Janet Ecker, the Minister of Finance, is holding consultations for the upcoming provincial budget, and final funding numbers cannot be confirmed until after the budget is released, he added.

"Our concern is not simply for September 2003, it is for the years following that," said Western President Paul Davenport. "We need to hire more faculty and staff to ensure the services for our students and [maintain] a quality student to faculty ratio."

Western has agreed to accept more students for the upcoming year, Davenport said. According to the target set out by the university's Senate, Western will be accepting 6,595 first-year students this coming September, he said.

Western is involved in the process of lobbying the government to increase faculty and staff and ensure a positive student to faculty ratio, especially when students enter their second and third years at university, confirmed Davenport.

The finances to do this would have to come from the province, and could then be used to ensure students are given all the choices they deserve, he said.

According to Ross, any more money for universities will have to wait for the spring budget. "Let us get through this budget first before looking into the future," he said.

"We are extremely interested in looking beyond the first year of the double cohort," said Josh Morgan, University Students' Council VP-education and president of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.

Before the arrival of the double cohort class, the government needs to have the foresight to preserve the quality of education that students are currently receiving [after first year], he said.


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