Double the rhetoric
The Ontario provincial government has done its best impression of a broken record in recent weeks in regards to the upcoming enrollment crunch at Ontario's universities.
The phrase, "All qualified students will be accepted," has been shoved down both the media and the public's throats time and time again by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The obvious question and concern for applicants what does "qualified" actually mean?
By most universities' early estimates, it is fair to assume that a 75 per cent average is going to find most high school graduates well below the acceptance levels for most programs the majority will need an average of 80 per cent to even throw their names in the hat.
Over the next two years, undergraduate student spaces at Ontario universities are expected to suffer from an extremely unbalanced case of supply and demand. A recent study performed at Queen's University estimates approximately 7,216 to 10,000 more students than anticipated will be seeking spots in our province's universities in September of 2003. More "qualified" students may be shut out than ever before.
If the current predictions come to fruition, the blame game will commence. Most of the fingers will be pointed in one direction the provincial government.
The governments estimated the province would face 61,284 high school applicants in 2003. For a number of years, many universities and many post-secondary education advocacy groups have argued that number may be much higher, and that funding does not exist to serve such a capacity.
Although some funding initiatives were undertaken by the province, many universities still find themselves short in terms of infrastructure, faculty and an assortment of other key areas.
Maybe the government did make the right move by cutting the fifth year of high school in Ontario, but the fact that this is a good move in the long haul does little to comfort the sacrificial lambs coming out of high school over the next two years.
On top of the usual pressure high school graduates face, it is clear some very qualified individuals may not have the opportunity to make going to university in Ontario one of their future options.
Perhaps there was no other way. Often, when drastic changes are implemented into any system, someone has to pay the price along the bumpy road.
However, if this is the case, you would think we can expect a little honesty. Ontario's Progressive Conservative government needs to stop lying through its teeth and admit that competition among next year's crop of university students will be incredibly competitive and bear many losers. They need to admit that some "qualified" students will be left out in the cold.