Volume 96, Issue 83
Friday, March 7, 2003

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Paying to be the next Matlock

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Vast increases in the University of Toronto's law school tuition will not prevent future students from attending, according to a recent report from the university provost's office

However, the report has faced steady criticism, and the other five law schools in Ontario – Western included – are commissioning their own report regarding rising tuition.

According to Lois Chiang, assistant dean of students in the U of T faculty of law, the report, which analyzes the issue of student accessibility involved in the university's plan to steadily raise tuition from $14,000 to $22,000, is based on extensive consultation. "[It] is one of the most rigorous studies conducted on this issue," she said.

The university does not believe higher tuition will discourage students, as any tuition increases are accompanied by a well-funded and comprehensive financial aid program, Chiang explained. "This is the key factor to maintaining accessibility to higher education institutions," she added.

Ian Holloway, dean of law at Western, said the other five Ontario law schools are launching their own study to look at the impact of tuition increases at their own schools.

"It's just beginning," he said, adding the study will ask whether higher tuition will deter students and skew their career choices.

The committee will include the deans from each law faculty, a faculty member and student representatives, he said. "My hunch is that the results will be similar," Holloway added, noting the report will not be used as an excuse to justify tuition increases.

"The student representatives at the law school feel that the conclusions are drawn from inadequate data, and we still do not know what the full effects of increased tuition will be," said Jennifer Matthews, president of the Students' Law Society at U of T.

The university's promise of increased financial aid can not feasibly continue, she said. "The more students who apply for financial aid, the less each student will receive," Matthews added.

Arleen Huggins, vice-chair of the Canadian Bar Association's standing committee on equality, said the CBA also has concerns about the cost of a legal education.

"That is why [a recently passed CBA resolution] indicated a proposal urging faculties of law to adopt tuition policies with equality to access," she said.

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2002 THE GAZETTE