By Alexandra Martineau
Funding for increased study space and an improved library are on their way to Ryerson, but the student members of the Board of Governors weren’t completely satisfied with the university’s budget.
The board could not count on its student members’ support when it tabled next year’s budget last Monday. Increased tuition fees did not sit well with RSU Vice-President Education Nora Loreto.
But she did have mild praise for the plan. “All things considered, it’s a very student-focused budget,” she said. President Sheldon Levy echoed that sentiment, saying the demands of the community and government were also reflected in the financial plan. “This budget is not one that you would say was manufactured on the 13th floor of Jorgenson Hall,” Levy said.
A hefty $9.5 million of the $280-million budget has been set aside for Levy’s “quality agenda,” which includes priorities identified by students during the President’s Commission on Student Engagement and Experience. Money has been set aside for expanding and improving the library as well as creating more study space.
Cash has also been set aside for improving co-ops and job placements. First-year undergraduate enrolment will be reduced by eight per cent to bring Ryerson back to its 2005/2006 level in three years, a feat of which Levy is particularly proud. “This is the first time that Ryerson, that I know of in its history, has capped enrolments,” he said.
The undergraduate numbers will remain capped “until there is confidence that the resources we have… can handle more students and provide a quality eduation,” Levy said. Enrolment in graduate programs will continue to rise significantly, helped by government funding. As promised, some of the budget was set aside to respond to student suggestions from the task force on student engagement.
Some of those suggestions were more study space and student interaction across departments. The report quoted one student who suggested a dormitory-style area for commuters who need a quick nap between classes. “I would like to see a kind of dormitory service, a place where you could check in, check your valuables and take a nap for an hour or so. I can be stuck here for hours at a time,” the student said.
Others, such as Tashi Sangp, objected to the tuition fee increase in the budget. The third-year information technology management student said it will make things harder for him as he relies on OSAP to cover his tuition.
Next year, undergraduate fees will increase up to 4.5 per cent for new students, while new graduate students will see an increase of up to eight per cent, and all students will see increases of four per cent in the following years. “It’s unfortunate that the only budget we are provided with is based on the assumption that tuition fees are going up.
Especially when you’ve got overwhelming dissent from students in a lot of different forms,” Loreto said.