Ryerson Students Disappointed with Ontario Budget

    McGuinty Government Poised to Generate Another Surplus with High Tuition

    TORONTO, March 26 /CNW/ - Ryerson University students are disappointed
with the Ontario government for its lack of support of post-secondary
education and students in yesterday's budget. Students say that university
administrators should examine the financial commitments in detail and not
endorse a budget that further entrenches student debt.
    "Ryerson University's administrators should not be so quick with the
'thank-yous'," said Nora Loreto, President of the Ryerson Students' Union.
"The 2008 Ontario budget continues McGuinty's shock and awe tradition of
announcing large, muti-year numbers for spending that will not amount to
enough every year."
    The Auditor General of Ontario confirmed in his 2007 Annual Report that
the deferred-maintenance backlog for the province's universities was
$1.6 billion as of March 2007. Though the 2008 budget presented yesterday
included $200 million for the maintenance and renewal of university
facilities, even if that amount is combined with the $464 million announced in
the November 2007 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review for a Campus Renewal
Strategy and strategic capital projects, 60 per cent of the funding for
adequate maintenance of campus facilities is still required.
    The $150 per student textbook voucher program is a pittance considering
that the McGuinty government generated an extra $1.8 billion in revenue that
was not anticipated in the November 2007 economic update and is planning to
run a $600 million surplus in 2008. This $128.3 million per year tokenistic
gesture will barely keep up with the amount students will pay for McGuinty's
tuition fee hikes.
    "Since it cancelled the tuition fee freeze in 2006, this government has
been generating surpluses on the backs of students," said Gail Alivio,
President of the Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson. "A
reduction of tuition fees is the only policy that will stop the financing of
Ontario's universities with high tuition fees and student loans that keep so
many from finishing their studies or even getting in the door."
    Over the past fifteen years, tuition fees and student debt have risen
more than four times faster than the rate of inflation. During
Premier McGuinty's first term of office, tuition fees rose from the fourth to
the third highest in Canada. As a result, today's students are graduating from
a four-year undergraduate programme with more than $25,000 of debt.
    Between 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, Ryerson University's annual tuition fee
revenues increased by approximately $20 million while the University's
spending on bursaries and scholarships increased by only $1.9 million. In
2006-2007, Ryerson charged $132.9 million in fees while providing only
11 per cent of that amount on bursaries and scholarships - a figure that
remains unchanged since the McGuinty government took office in the 2003-2004
academic year.
    "Students wish Ryerson President Sheldon Levy's actions demonstrated the
commitment to accessibility he claims," said Loreto. "Platitudes for the media
about 'accessibility to higher education for students' do not excuse his poor
decision to increase tuition fees. High fees are a double-tax that mean more
loan debt for the vast majority of students while the Government of Ontario
pads its coffers with money that should be spent to fund our public
universities directly."

    The Ryerson Students' Union is comprised of 24,000 undergraduate and
graduate students and the Continuing Education Students' Association of
Ryerson is comprised of 16,000 part-time and continuing education students.

For further information:

For further information: Nora Loreto, President, Ryerson Students'
Union, Local 24-Canadian Federation of Students: (416) 846-6672 (cell); Gail
Alivio, President, Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson,
Local 105-Canadian Federation of Students: (647) 839-4141 (cell)

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Ryerson Students' Union

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Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson

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