Rye prez: “No more room”

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By Don McHoull

With Ontario universities being called on to take on even more students next fall, Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse says that there is simply no more room available at the university.

“If we have to take more students, we will need some more facilities,” Lajeunesse said.

Ryerson is already planning to take on 750 extra students next year. But if two government surveys are correct, the university might find itself expected to take on hundreds of students on top of that.

Lajeunesse said he was unsure how many students would be coming.

“It seems, according to the various articles, that the government has other numbers they haven’t shared with us,” he said.

Estimates for the size of next year’s double cohort graduation, where OAC and Grade 12 students will finish high school at the same time, were originally based on an assumption that only 60 per cent of Grade 12 students would graduate in four years.

However two surveys by the government of Ontario show that between 75 and 90 per cent of this year’s Grade 12 students are planning to graduate this spring.

“Sixty per cent was the number that was assumed, now they’re saying 80 per cent, but I simply don’t have any data about that,” Lajeunesse said.

Even if 80 per cent of those students actually graduate this year, it would create a demand for 8,400 new university spots next fall.

The National Post reported that if that happens, Ryerson will be asked to take an additional 590 students.

A survey by the Post last week found that among Ontario’s 17 universities, only Lakehead, Laurentian and Wilfrid Laurier said they could take on any extra first-year students next year.

Combined, those three schools could accommodate less than 1,200 additional students.

University enrolments should continue to rise steadily for the next decade, according to a report released yesterday by the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada.

The report, entitled Trends in Higher Education, projected an increase in enrolment of up to 30 per cent by the year 2011.

This increased enrolment will require universities to hire as many as 40,000 new professors, and to increase total operating revenues by $6.2 billion.

As well, increased student growth at Ryerson and even increased government funding won’t mean much unless the university can find more space for the students it may be accepting.

Lajeunesse said that Ryerson’s space standards are at the bottom of a list of Ontario universities.

“Our space standards are so far below those of the Ontario [university] system, and the Ontario system is so far below the University of Toronto that if you look at it in any objective way Ryerson cannot take any more students beyond what we’ve already committed to.”

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