Mo’ Money, Mo’ Masters

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By Seema Persaud

Although Ryerson has been promised funding for 886 new spots in graduate studies, a current graduate student thinks the university should be improving quality rather than quantity.

Graduate student Cindy Loo, pursuing a master’s in international economics and finance, doesn’t see the need for more space in the existing programs.

“We are a pretty small class, even though our program capacity is 60 students, we are currently sitting at 30 if not less,” she said.

Loo thinks the money should be spent on spaces for graduate students to study as the library is always packed, instead of spending it on increasing the amount of spots available in graduate programs at Ryerson.

Last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the province will spend $240 million to increase the number of graduate and PhD spaces available in Ontario’s universities for Fall 2007.

However, second-year master’s of communication and culture studies student Sarah Lasch welcomes the additional funding.

“I think the new spots should go to new graduate programs,” she said.

“My graduate program is way too packed as it is and there are not enough resources even for it’s current students. I’m actually quite opinionated on the issue, so it’s too bad if I’m too late.”

Terry McAfee, coordinator for graduate studies, said it’s likely the new spaces will mainly go towards new graduate programs that Ryerson is stating next fall rather than improving existing graduate programs.

The goal is for all faculties to have graduate studies.

Kitty Choi, a fourth-year electrical engineering student considering graduate studies, thinks Ryerson’s push to expand graduate studies could hurt the school’s reputation.

“They might take in less qualified people,” said Choi.

She adds that having more spots available won’t make the programs any better as it depends on the teaching quality, not the number of students.

Mary Huang, a fourth-year graphics communications management student, also thinks Ryerson should hold off.

“I can also see that (Ryerson) might be stretching itself too thin too early on, since the current graduate programs, one might say, are not yet ‘tried and true,’ particularly when you compare them to the more established offerings of other universities,” said Huang.

“It’s something I’d be worried about in terms of the quality of the programs if they’re ‘churning’ it out so fast, that maybe they should concentrate on refining and increasing the seats for what they currently have.”

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy partly agrees with the students.

“I think every University should always think about the improvement of existing programs and the resources will allow us to do that,” he said.

Levy also thinks some programs will see the benefits of the added funding as soon as this year.

“So quality improvement is always part of the priority and it should certainly come before just expanding,” he said.

Next fall, Ryerson will be starting new graduate programs in the fields of Aerospace Engineering, Architecture, Computer Science, Documentary Media, Journalism, Media Production and Social Work.

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