April 8, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 100  

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Waterloo ups tuition to make a point

By Sarvenaz Kermanshahi
Gazette Staff

Critics are slamming the University of Waterloo Board of Governors for passing a motion on Tuesday to increase tuition fees, in an attempt to draw attention to the money it will lose in the event of a tuition freeze.

“The proposed tuition fee hike will illustrate the real cost of the tuition fee freeze, and will show people the growing revenue gap,” said John Morris, Waterloo’s media relations officer, noting Waterloo students are not likely to see any actual increase in fees, as Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is expected to announce a tuition freeze within the next week, effectively squashing the motion.

“The [McGuinty] government hasn’t officially announced the freeze, or the amount of money that will be given to compensate the university,” he said.

According to Morris, the revenue forgone as a result of the freeze will directly affect services for students, citing financial assistance as an example. “If the 1.6 per cent notional increase goes through, it will provide $7.9 million in additional revenue. Of that amount, $3.1 million goes to student scholarships,” he said.

Morris added that in the absence of a tuition hike or adequate government compensation, a two per cent budget cut would be announced. “The cuts would be seen across the board; for example, vacant positions would not be filled, elimination of part-time positions [and the] loss of permanent jobs.”

“This is nothing short of political grandstanding,” said Joel Duff, Ontario chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “They are trying to undermine the tuition fee freeze and the review process of funding for the university that the government has promised.”

According to Duff, the motion assumes the underfunding of the post-secondary education system is the responsibility of the students, not the government. “It is not our responsibility to make up the difference. If the university needs more money from the government, then the administration and students should lobby for more funding from the government.”

Duff said he believes the government will provide financial compensation to offset the effects of the tuition freeze. “The government has promised to provide new money, and it will be one of the largest investments of public dollars in the past 10 years.”

“I understand their frustration, but I don’t think it was warranted,” said Paul Yeoman, president of Western’s University Students’ Council, in reference to the motion. He stated universities were expecting to hear word regarding funding in the fall.

“It doesn’t help,” Yeoman said. “You are frustrating the hand that doles out the money.”



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