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UPDATED: Ontario government rejects Ryerson’s law school proposal

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By Sherina Harris and Raneem Alozzi

The Ontario government has rejected Ryerson University’s proposal for a law school, The Eyeopener has learned.

The minister of training, colleges and universities, Merrilee Fullerton, reviewed the proposal and decided that another law school in the province isn’t needed due to a surplus of students seeking articling positions, a probability of higher unemployment for lawyers and salaries increasing at a slower rate compared to other occupations.

“My Ministry and I came to the same conclusion, that it was not in the best interest of the people of Ontario to approve the proposal at this time,” said Fullerton in a statement.

She cited the government’s mandate to “restore respect for taxpayers and tax dollars” by ensuring that the government’s services and programs are efficient and conducive to job creation.

In a statement to The Eye, Ryerson administration said the university was disappointed to learn about the ministry’s decision, noting that the law school proposal was approved by three accreditation bodies.

“Ryerson is not looking for new funding, but rather to transfer enrolment funding and OSAP, already approved by the government, towards legal education,” the statement read.

Ryerson said it will continue to work in good faith with the provincial government to offer future OSAP-eligible legal education that will produce practice-ready lawyers in Ontario. 

“I am absolutely committed to working with Ryerson University on programs that deliver results for their students, giving them the skills needed in the workforce of the future,” Fullerton said.

Ryerson’s Senate approved a motion to create a Faculty of Law in March. The program’s applications were expected to open in August 2019, with classes planned to begin in September 2020.

According to Ryerson’s Faculty of Law website, the law school planned to focus on diversity, incorporating technology and improving access to justice.

This move comes one month after the government cancelled its funding for Ryerson’s proposed satellite campus. Last spring, the Ontario government had committed $90 million to help the university build a post-secondary site and centre for innovation in Brampton.

Wilfrid Laurier University’s proposed Milton campus and York University’s Markham expansion also lost their funding.

Fullerton said the government was “no longer in a position” to fund the three expansions due to a $15-billion deficit.

The government also announced last week that they would cut funding for a Francophone university in Toronto.

 

More to come.

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