By Melissa Godsoe
Engineering students have been hardest hit in the latest of tuition increases at Ryerson.
While most first-year students face a two per cent increase, first-year engineers will see a spike of 12 per cent.
Ryerson president Claude Lajeunesse said it was necessary for the school to raise engineering tuition in order to be competitive.
“We were at the low end of the tuition for engineering in Ontario, and we have to maintain quality,” he said. “The students in the end are looking for a quality education. That still is the most important factor in their success later on in life.”
First-year engineering students at Ryerson will dole out an extra $580 this year, pushing their tuition above $5400. Engineering students face a 13 per cent hike nationally which according to Statistics Canada will bring the average tuition to about $4400.
RyeSAC president Ken Marciniee argued that increasing fees will not bring Ryerson on par with other universities.
“It’s a strange notion that quality comes as a result of a higher price,” he said, adding that first-year students will face classroom overcrowding.
According to Stalin Boctor, the dean of engineering, Ryerson has hired eight engineering professors to handle the double cohort but estimates that first-year class size will still increase about 20 per cent.
The Board of Governors set aside $1 million dollars in the operational budget for any financial issues that could arrise in the double cohort year.
Marciniec believes that the university hiked tuition inorder to cover part of the budget.
“Just looking at tuition fees alone, it’s quite obvious that the increase in fees is equivalent to the one million dollar slush fund set aside should any problems arrise with the double cohort.”
Lajeunesse dismissed the issue as speculation on the part of RyeSAC and would not comment.
NDP education critic RosarioMarchese argued that the latest round of tuition increases will force many students to question whether they can afford post-secondary education.
“When the universities silently accept the inevitable that we just don’t have enough money and raise tuition fees, when they accept that argument they are being complicit. And I do blame the universities for that,” he said. “The more silen we are, the more punishing the government.”
According to Lajeunesse some of the cash from the increase will be put towards bursaries and grants.
“It still is our position that no students will be kept from attending Ryerson because of financial circumstances.”
When asked why only first year engineering students will be impacted by tuition increase, Lajeunesse said: “We wanted to make sure that students who had come here before would not be affected by the larger increase.”