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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2001

Deregulation at Ryerson

Growing crisis in access to education say students.

The board of governors of Ryerson Polytechnic University has approved a new masters program in Computer Networks that will cost $20,000 a year in tuition fees.

"It's a slap in the face to middle and lower income families," said Erin George, Ontario chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "Students who can't afford to pay this amount will simply be shut out of the program."

Ryerson's administration says the fees have been set so high in order for the program to operate on a full "cost-recovery" basis. Administrators also say the high fees are justified given that graduates can expect to find lucrative employment.

"You can recover your expenses when you get employed," Mehmet Zeytinoglu, chair of Ryerson's electrical and computer engineering department, was quoted as saying.

However, George says the promise of well-paying jobs still does not help students from families who simply cannot afford the cost of tuition.

"Statistics Canada has already flagged the growing accessibility gap that is emerging between middle and lower income students and those from affluent backgrounds," George said.

"That graduates from this program will find jobs cannot be used as justification for ending access to education for middle and lower income students. The spectre of $20,000 tuition fees is a nightmare for most students."

George is also concerned that the new program will have strong links with private industry. She says Cisco Systems is donating $500,000 worth of computer equipment to the program and that the company will be offering students co-op placements.

"It's no accident that Cisco Systems was a sponsor of last year's Education Industry Summit, a forum for private corporations to compare notes on how to squeeze profits from the emerging post-secondary education market," noted George.

"Thanks to the policies of the Ontario government, it's clear what public-private partnerships mean for higher education in this province — one stream of education and employment for the affluent, and another for the rest of us."