Cash flows to high-tech degrees

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By Vanessa Thomas

Ryerson’s high-tech programs will receive a cash lift thanks to an initiative announced by the Ontario government.

Finance Minister Ernie Eves outlined plans in May to spend $150 million to double the number of students in science and technology-based post-secondary programs.

Ryerson’s school of electrical and computer engineering will receive more than $120,000 in grants from the pronvince — $5,000 per student — to increase first-year enrolment by 20 per cent to 275 full-time students this year.

Erin George, RyeSAC’s v.p. education, says she wants the provincial government to reinvest into the whole education system rather than target its funds to specific programs.

“[The programs] is detrimental to post-secondary education because it discriminates against certain programs, just because engineering is a big business-oriented,” said George.

Since the government’s announcement, Ryerson’s school of electrical and computer engineering has been busy working on a strategy to accommodate increased enrolment.  The university spent $75,000 to upgrade a lab and will hire on instructor from the department’s budget for the extra 55 full-time students this year.

“There is a high demand for people with technological skills,” said Mehmet Zeytinoglu, computer and electrical engineering chair.

While the government gave Ontario universities the option to double their entrants, Zeytinoglu says Ryerson decided not to go that route and instead elected to allow the minimum 20 per cent increase.

“Doubling is an incorrect decision because there may not be as much demand for the program five to 10 years down the line,” he said.

“I don’t believe there is a sufficient number of qualified students to fill these spaces.”

Though the cutoff to be accepted into the program dropped to 72 from a 74 per cent OAC average, Zeytinoglu believes the quality of students remains high.

But that’s not what Roger Duffus, a third-year electrical engineering student thinks.  He says the students who deserve to be in the program are the ones with the higher high school averages.

“A few per cent may seem small, but I worked hard for my 84 per cent.”

The school of computer science will decide in a few weeks if it will accept the province’s enrolment grants — $2,500 for each new students — next year or the year 2000.

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