Brock U gets set to take a hike
By Brendan Howe
Students at Brock University found out last week they will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets next year as a result of a Board of Governors decision to increase tuition by 10 per cent.
Brock is the first school, in what could potentially be a long line of others, to take full advantage of the increase the Ontario Government is allowing for next year.
University president David Atkinson said they have simply run out of money. "Brock is the poorest-funded university in the system," he said, adding there are currently gaping holes in their library and infrastructure program.
A full-time student at Brock will see their tuition rise by $323 next year to about $3,500.
Basil Coolman, president of the Brock Students' Union, acknowledged the need for an increase in tuition but thought the university was going too far. "Ten per cent wasn't needed to make up the gap that would be there next year."
The cost of the university's operation will not be increasing by 10 per cent, he said. Coolman was happy, though, that some improvements will be made with the additional revenue.
One of these improvements involves the library which Atkinson said is lacking some fundamental and critical new books. Brock students sometimes have to drive to McMaster in Hamilton or even further to get needed books.
The university will be offering grants to offset some of the increase with returning students being able to receive $250 if they qualify for the Ontario Student Assistance Plan while first-year students will be able to receive $500.
Coolman said this is a good way to spend the 30 per cent of the increase which is designated to be spent on student aid but the people who will be hit the hardest by the increase are those who do not qualify for OSAP and whose parents do not pay for their education.
Hoops Harrison, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, believes this is not the approach that should be taken. "The institutions should be less concerned about giving bursaries to their students and stop raising tuition."
He added the provincial and federal governments are responsible for supporting students.
The announcement comes at an unusually early time with most schools waiting until April but Atkinson said it is important for the university to do this now. "We felt to wait until April when students have gone home would be an act of bad faith."
Western students are still waiting to see how much they will be shelling out in tuition next year. Peter Mercer, the university's VP-administration, said the decision here hinges on the Ontario government's announcement of what programs they consider to be professional. "What we want to do is find out what our options are."
Programs which are defined as professional by the government are subject to deregulation.
Daniele Gauvin, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said the government has been consulting with universities over the past few months and they are expecting to make an announcement soon.