Law school fee hike sparks anger
Dean's proposal will raise tuition to $15,000 a year by 2007
Osgoode Hall professors refuse to back $3,000 increase

Toronto Star
March 9, 2004

Osgoode Hall law professors have refused to support a long-range $3,000 tuition hike being recommended by their dean, on the grounds it could price the school out of reach of all but the rich.

Osgoode's faculty council, which has no power over money matters but represents the views of professors and students at the country's largest law school, voted in principle yesterday against supporting any hike in fees above the current $12,000 itself a 50 per cent jump over last year.

Instead, the council has suggested Osgoode explore other ways to fill the provincial funding gap, such as boosting enrolment, cutting costs or fundraising more aggressively.

"We need to send the strongest message possible to government that they won't make up the funding gap on the backs of students," said professor Lisa Philipps. However dean Patrick Monahan said he has little choice but to recommend the hike to York University's board of governors later this spring if he hopes to maintain the quality of the award-winning school in the face of declining government dollars.

Monahan is recommending tuition stay frozen at $12,000 for two years but then jump by $1,500 for September, 2006 and by another $1,500 in September, 2007, for a final price tag of $15,000. "No dean enjoys announcing a tuition increase, but we're facing budget cuts of nearly $400,000 this year and a total cumulative cut in the past five years of more than $1.5 million," he said at a student protest.

He said he's also recommending that 45 per cent of this increase go for bursaries and loans for financially needy students.

A number of students boycotted classes yesterday.

Law school tuition soaring

Osgoode students plan shutdown protest today

U of Toronto Considers $22,000 per Student in 2006

Toronto Star
March 6, 2004

They're one year apart at Osgoode Hall Law School, but there's a world of difference in the fees they pay.

Erin Rizok paid $12,000 this year to enrol in the historic law school, 50 per cent more than the $8,000 second-year student Sarah Dover paid last year.

And now, caught between rising costs and falling grants, Osgoode says it may hike fees to $14,000 in 2006 and $16,000 in 2007 so it can afford to replace retiring professors, upgrade library holdings and beef up funding for student loans.

Five years ago, tuition was $4,500.

To protest the rising fees, Osgoode students plan to shut down the school today the day law school officials vote on the long-range hikes.

"We already have students using food banks and working full-time to be able to afford to come here, but if fees go up even more, Osgoode Hall will become a school just for the rich," said Dover, whose tuition is covered by loans and bursaries, and by working 16 hours a week.

"The ironic thing is, Osgoode has been the front-line law school for poverty law and social justice issues, but it may become a school just for the rich," she said.

New dean Patrick Monahan said he has just finished wiping out a $1 million deficit by cutting non-academic services, but he says as the funding shortfall continues to climb, he sees few other ways to bridge the gap than to charge students more.

But Rizok says it's unfair this year's students pay $4,000 more than last.

"I'm lucky I qualified for a private line of credit along with my bursary and loan, but students from lower-income backgrounds might not have that choice," said Rizok, 25.

Big-ticket programs like law have found themselves at the eye of a political storm recently as students wait for Premier Dalton McGuinty to unveil details of his tuition freeze.

Universities say a tuition freeze could cost them up to $75 million in lost revenue this year, and community colleges peg the loss at $10 million, on top of a funding shortfall of $80 million.

In 1997, the Ontario Conservatives capped tuition increases for undergraduates at 2 per cent a year but lifted the limit on a number of professional and graduate programs.

Since then, the University of Toronto Law School has launched a plan to raise its $16,000-a-year tuition $2,000 a year until 2006, when it would hit a final $22,000, a move that could be delayed by a provincial two-year tuition freeze.

By the school year 2005-2006, the University of Western Ontario's law school had planned to hike fees to $13,500, Queen's University law school intended to charge $12,700 and the University of Ottawa planned to raise law fees to $12,000.