Tories pass bills to universities
Western will receive over $2.7 million to help prevent campus buildings from crumbling to the ground, according to yesterday's announcement by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
"The announcement [yesterday] concerns our annual facilities grant," said Western President Paul Davenport, adding the money will go towards the maintenance of Western's existing facilities.
"The replacement value of our facilities at Western is about $800 million," he explained, adding two per cent of that or $16 million per year is needed to ensure there is no deferred maintenance.
A total of $40 million goes to all universities and colleges in Ontario, according to Andrew Bennett, a spokesperson for the Ministry.
"One of the things we asked institutions [was] how they could use their existing facilities to better accommodate more students," Bennett said.
The government has invested $337.5 million towards existing university and college buildings since 1999, Bennett added.
Josh Morgan, president of the Ontario Undergraduate Students' Alliance, said addressing deferred maintenance is something OUSA has advocated for some time.
"However, $26.7 million for Ontario universities does not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem," Morgan stated. "Throwing money into repairing buildings or even building new ones through SuperBuild overshadows the more pressing concern of what happens inside the university."
"Quality of education needs to be increased by addressing concerns like the student-faculty ratio and faculty recruitment and retention," Morgan explained, adding the lack of funding slated for the hiring of new faculty is a key area of concern.
University Students' Council President Chris Sinal said the funding was important.
"The infrastructure of a university is an integral component of the quality of a university and something that students are concerned about is that the quality of their education does not degrade as we enter into a time of increased financial constraints," Sinal stated.
Sinal said deferred maintenance remains a grave concern, adding any money is important.
Davenport said the funding is on par with what Western received last year.
"The $2.7 million is important and we're grateful," he said, adding additional funding is always needed. Davenport said Western also allocates funds for maintenance through the annual budget and private donations.