Volume 96, Issue 69
Friday, January 31, 2003

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Grits propose Double cohort refund

By Deanne Miachika
Gazette Writer

With the double cohort lurking around the corner, the call for an application fee refund is raising the hopes of many high school students.

According to Marie Bountrogianni, member of provincial parliament for the Hamilton Mountain riding and post-secondary education critic for the Liberal Party, university applications are something students should not have to pay for.

"[Increased applications are] not the students' fault, [they are] the government's," Bountrogianni said, adding students deserve a refund for the increase in application fees incurred due to the double cohort.

According to the Council of Ontario Universities' Web site, 33,500 additional applications have been sent to Ontario universities this year, which is a 46.7 per cent increase over January 2002.

Students are our future and this is one more obstacle they should not have to face, Bountrogianni said.

Students have the choice of applying to three different programs within all 19 Ontario-based universities and colleges, totalling 57 possible applications, said Gregory Marcotte, executive director for the Ontario Universities' Application Centre. Each application costs $25, or $80 for three, he said.

Marcotte was critical of Bountrogianni's request, noting all applications have user fees and to wave this one would be to go beyond luxury.

Originally, students were unable to apply to more than three universities or colleges in Ontario, but due to legal challenges claiming these rules as being discriminatory, they were changed, Marcotte explained.

Marcotte said he is sympathetic to those students who cannot afford the extra fees, but added the $25 application fee barely covers the actual processing costs, and students are lucky the fees are not more expensive. If there were no application fees, everyone would be applying, he added.

"I didn't create this world and I didn't create the double cohort – somebody has to pay for it," Marcotte said. If the students do not pay for these application fees, then the fees will be taken from other resources, such as registered students at the universities, he said.

According to Linda Nicholson, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, there has not been a dramatic increase in submissions. In 2002, the average number of applications per student was 4.3, whereas in 2003, the average only increased to 5.1, she said.

Bountrogianni said she and her party will continue to fight these issues in their upcoming election platform.

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