By Abigale Subhan
Approximately 30 suggestions for post-secondary education appeared in economist Don Drummond’s annual report to the Ontario government to reduce their $16-billion deficit. But Ryerson says they are well equipped if these changes come into effect.
“If you take a look at what the Drummond report recommends it is very consistent with the planning of the university. If it materializes in the fiscal plan of the province and is announced with the budget then [Ryerson’s] planning is right in line with those recommendations,” said president Sheldon Levy.
The 668-page report outlines 362 recommendations mainly focused on health and education.
The report proposes that the government should maintain its plan to increase tuition by five per cent. Drummond also recommends scrapping the 30 per cent Ontario tuition grant, a rebate for post-secondary students that started this January.
Levy said the university has planned in such a way that the tuition fees would go up by five per cent and the only additional revenue that would come from the province would be through growth funding.
“I think Ryerson is gearing up for various scenarios of cutbacks,” said John Shields, professor of politics and public administration.
“The main issue is bracing with how do you do more with less.” But he feels the university has an advantage in comparison to other institutions.
“Ryerson is in a well-placed geographic position that is very much in demand. The programs here are attractive because [students feel] secure about their futures,” said Shields.
Along with those suggestions, Drummond wants universities to consider changing some four-year degree programs to three continuous years.
Shamhad Abdi, a second-year nursing student, is not in favour of this proposal.
“It’s not beneficial to learning. No one can focus for that long,” she said. “The only thing that gets me through the year is thinking about summer.”
According to Taryn Linder, fourth-year arts and contemporary studies student, this idea will not be manageable for students.
“I don’t think [changing programs to three years] would work,” said Linder. “That makes it more inaccessible to pay for your education. Many students rely on summers to make a substantial amount of income to subsidize their tuition.”
However, despite these suggested cutbacks, the report recommends increasing government funding for post-secondary education by 1.5 per cent annually until 2017-18. Abdi said the funding increase doesn’t make sense.
“It’s counter-intuitive. You can’t increase the funding for universities and then raise the tuition by five per cent,” said Abdi.
The provincial government will make a final decision on these recommendations in next month’s budget. This budget will in turn determine Ryerson’s own. Drummond warned that failure to implement these suggestions will lead to a $30-billion deficit by 2017.