Ryerson tuition or face mediocrity, says elite university head

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By Joel Wass

The head of Queen’s University’s push to get rid of tuition fee regulation may leave Ryerson in the dust, said the Ontario chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.

Queen’s Principal William Leggett’s proposal that universities be allowed to set their own fees would leave poorer schools such as Ryerson unable to compete, said Joel Duff.

“Bill Leggett wants a situation where Queen’s University provides an education to the ultra-rich and he doesn’t care if other schools are left behind,” said Duff. “There’s no question Leggett wants American-style, Ivy League institutions in Ontario.”

In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen last week, Leggett said that Canadian universities need to increase tuition rates if they want to be world-class.

“Mediocre post-secondary education shouldn’t be an alternative, and we are heading towards mediocre in this country,” he said.

Ryerson University President Claude Lajeunesse had mixed feelings about Leggett’s ideas.

On the one hand, Lejeunesse said he was firmly opposed to any changes that would make post-secondary education in Canada more like the American system.

“All our universities here in Canada all provide a very good, solid university education and that is not the case in the U.S.,” said Lejeunesse. “Quite clearly [in America] the quality of education varies immensely amongst each institution.”

On the other hand, Lejeunesse said that tuition fees need to be reexamined.

“Tuition is still low [in Ontario] compared to many other jurisdictions,” he said.

In a letter to the Queen’s Journal, the university’s student newspaper, Leggett defended his stance regarding unregulated tuition hikes, and said that the elimination of tuition caps would not change the Queen’s mandate of making sure that costs did not prevent worthy students from attending the school.

Leggett suggested increase in scholarships, bursaries and loans to make up for the rise in cost.

“That’s just B.S. and a way for him to justify what will be a major blow to equality,” said Duff of Leggett’s financial plan. “Make no mistake, Bill Leggett’s only focus is to build his own reputation and salary.”

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