By Renee Griffiths
Staff WriterEveryone knows that knowledge is free. An education, on the other hand, is getting to be pretty pricey. It appears that no one knows this better than Ontario parents. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll released last week, approximately 70 per cent of Ontario parents fear that even if their child is accepted, they will not be able to attend a college or university. Seventy-nine per cent of “concerned” parents stated that they felt their children would not be able to attend because they “can’t afford it.”
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) sponsored the poll.
Also, 64 per cent of those polled would rather sacrifice tax cuts or reduce spending in other areas in order to see more provincial funding devoted towards these institutions, in order to bring down the price of tuition to the student.
Iris Shegda, an OCUFA spokesperson, was not surprised by the results.
“It’s something we [OCUFA] have known for a while,” she said. She pointed out that individuals and organizations such as OCUFA must maintain a dialogue in order to improve the current situation.
“We [OCUFA] will try to let the government know that they are not listening to the public and their concerns, the problems are all really a question of funding. We will talk to government officials while listening to public concerns over access to public post-secondary institutions.”
“It is unfortunate that the government has not made the significant new investment required by Ontario’s universities and colleges,” said Henry Jacek, OCUFA president, in a press release. “In the universities alone, over 15,000 new professors and librarians will have to be hired before the end of the decade to meet projected demand.”
Duncan Small, president of the Brock University Students’ Union, knows the effects of such high tuition costs all too well.
“Just by seeing how many emergency students loans are given out, or by seeing the amount of awards and bursaries, and by the number of students on OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) you can see the education is expensive,” he said. “Education is still an investment, but it is also an expense.”
He also went on to say that working with Ontario University Students’ Associations’ Real People, Real Debt campaign has given him the opportunity to see the “human side of student debt” across the province. The awareness campaign selected two students from all member schools, including Brock, in order to illustrate the effects and impact of student debt.
“Instead of seeing just a number, you see an actual student, and how their student debt affects their life and impacts their family,” Small said. “You can see the difficulties students face by the number of students who only take three or four courses, and work part time in order to pay for their schooling.”
Tuition has been steadily rising at universities across Ontario, Brock included. Total tuition costs (not including added student and university fees) have almost doubled since the 1992-93 year. A Brock university student in 1992 paid $1,892.50 for five full credits, while a student in the 2001-2002 year will pay $4,029 dollars. After all student and university fees are paid, the cost reaches $4,444.40. This figure does not include living expenses or text books.
The double-cohort, a result of removing Grade 13, will double the students expected to apply to post-secondary institutions. This increase in applicants is expected to make acceptance into a college or university even more difficult, and the poll reflected parental anxiety over lack of spots. Fifteen per cent of parents who expressed a concern, listed the double cohort as the reason they feared their child may not be able to attend.
The full poll can be found at http://www.ipsos-reid.com/media/cotnent/pre_rel.cfm
By Renee Griffiths