September 12, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 9  

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Registrar lacks class

To the editor:
I'm another year closer to my degree. I should be happy with this revelation, but with all the frustration and resulting disappointment with registration, this year has started on a sour note.

For a school system that promotes a "free and accessible" education, I find myself in the third year of my program taking classes I really don't want, only to fill my schedule. In fact, all of the classes I had anticipated on enrolling in were full before I even had a chance to register - one of the largest flaws in the online registration process. A system that is used to promote fairness in registration only benefits those lucky enough to be chosen first, leaving the rest to scramble and pick classes that will fit together, most having nothing to do with their intended educational path.

Upon calling the registrar, I was placed in a constant loop between apathetic employees. I have now resorted to waiting in enormous add/drop lines just to be told I'll be placed on a list, without any guarantee I'll be situated in that class.

It's frustrating to see that, although we're paying exorbitant fees for our education, we're left to the whims of those who see the students as nothing more than customers. Like any business, Western is dependent upon its students to survive. Giving them the royal screw-over is just bad business.

Justin Manuel
Honours MIT III

Good profs hard to find

Re: "The year ahead: USC Prez talks turkey with Gazette," Sept. 10

To the editor:
In the Sep. 10 edition of The Gazette, USC president Paul Yeoman was cited as stating that the Provincial Quality Assurance Fund could remedy the problem of overcrowding faced at Western and other Canadian Universities as it "can be used to hire more faculty, making class sizes smaller."

If it were just so simple. But it isn't. Your professors are highly trained experts in the fields in which they teach. Appropriate faculty are hard to find and even harder to recruit. As noted by an economist in The Globe and Mail the same day The Gazette story was printed: "Estimates are that Ontario will need more than 11,500 new faculty in this decade to teach the echo generation and to replace retiring professors. Other provinces face the same problem."

Across North America, universities are facing a major problem in the retention and renewal of faculty. Already the student-to-faculty ratio is undesirably high, as we at UWOFA and President Davenport both have stated. In order to ensure Western remains an academy that attracts and keeps the best scholars and educators and provides students here with the education they deserve and for which they are paying, what is required is an overall increase in the number of permanent, full-time faculty positions.

Western will require increased funding to the base budget of the University from the province and a continuing committment to retain and hire permanent full-time faculty.

Albert Katz
President of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association

Want a degree? Go to Moscow

Re: "Shoplifting higher education," Sept. 9

To the Editor:
Why shouldn't higher education be a fundamental right? In the 21st century, is it really possible to get by on a high school diploma? Let's forget that this issue has anything to do with university and take it from the framework that we are talking about higher education in general. I think the issue is value in education.

Unfortunately, most people don't go to school for the hell of it - they go to get a career. Can we honestly say the Canadian high school curriculum is sufficient to provide a graduate with a decent career in which they can support themselves (and possibly a family), while paying the extraordinary amount of taxes a good Canadian is obliged to pay? Even private schools don't claim career potential after graduation: their purpose is to get a child into university.

I recently went to Moscow and was enlightened to learn of their post-secondary educational system. Before I explain it however, I must mention their high school curriculum is significantly more advanced than our's. The chances of an individual getting a decent job after high school is much better in comparison to Canada's. Even with such an advanced system, getting a post-graduate degree is surprisingly easy.

If you can pay to go to university, you do it. You pay the government your tuition and you go. If you can't pay it, there is no such thing as OSAP. You simply have to take a test, kind of like the SATs. If you score high enough on basic skills (reading, writing, math, science, English), the government pays for you to attend state university. After speaking with several students, the general consensus was if you could make it to the last year of high school, university was no problem.

I like that system. Personally, I am horrible at standardized tests and I am sure there is alternative financial support in Moscow available (the mob), if exams aren't one's cup of tea. However, the basic ideology is a good one. If you can show you are a decent enough student to survive in university, you can go. And the best thing is, there is no such thing as "re-assessment."

Ben Johnson
Social Science I



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