Privatize universities: Biz leaders

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By Steven D’Souza

The Toronto Board of Trade took its turn playing government Monday.

The board, representing 10,000 business members, released a report outlining 11 proposals for overhauling Ontario’s postsecondary education system.

Establishing private universities, allowing market forces to determine tuition fees and making students repay loans through income-contingent schemes are three of the proposals made in the 30-page report.

The board surveyed 363 business leaders for the report, which discusses the principles of funding, academic excellence, student’s costs and opportunities. Critics said the report misses some key points.

Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse said his primary concern was the report’s call for another study of university funding, which he said is a waste of time and money.

“My second concern is accessibility,” said Lajeunesse. “We have to make sure that needy students get grants, loans, bursaries and are not denied postsecondary education.”

Gord Tanner, RyeSAC’s VP education, is also concerned about accessibility.

“Who the hell is the Board of Trade anyway?” asked Tanner. “This is pure capitalism. We might as well announce that there is no accessibility.”

But Tanner said the report does reveal some things. “It makes a clear statement about how the private sector is calling the shots with this government.”

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