Volume 96, Issue 92
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

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Double cohort funding impedes access?

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

Ontario universities will admit a higher percentage of students affected by the double cohort in a bid to get more government funding, a move critics charge will adversely affect students that fall in other categories.

The provincial government earmarked $368 million for schools supporting the differential access policy last year, but only recently have universities, such as Western, admitted to changing their admissions policy in order to qualify for the extra funding.

"It's certainly justified under the circumstances," said Western's VP-academic Greg Moran, of the government's decision to offer the targeted funding. Moran said current Grade 12 and OAC students are disadvantaged by the double cohort to the point that universities require extra funding to ensure fair accessibility. "I think we need to do what we can to meet that challenge."

The provincial government entered into an agreement with most Ontario universities to determine the enrollment target figures for double cohort students, said Andrew Bennett, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. In September, if those universities meet or exceed their targets, they will be eligible for the additional funding, which would be based on the size of the first-year class, Bennett explained.

Moran confirmed Western will be aiming for an 80 per cent admissions target for first-year students from Ontario, up from about 76 per cent two years ago. "That [first-year target] is one in past years that we haven't tried to control," he explained, but added more attention will be paid to admissions procedures for Western to receive the additional funding.

University Students' Council VP-education Josh Morgan said, although the extra money is greatly needed, the accompanying restrictions will only help a certain portion of students – not all of them. "There is no reason to attach these strings to the funding," Morgan said, adding university admissions should treat all students equally.

Morgan said the government was at fault for encouraging admissions quotas and that students should be admitted based primarily on academic achievement, and not their province or country of origin. "Ontario universities should be striving to have the best and smartest students in our university system," he said, adding out-of-province and international students should not be treated differently.

But Bennett argued that double cohort students are already at a disadvantage and this extra government funding will level the playing field. "We see it as appropriate to prioritize [double cohort students] for that reason," he said.


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