UTSU agenda voted down at annual general meeting

Surprise failure to approve agenda emboldens opposition

UTSU agenda voted down at annual general meeting

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Reforms absent from AGM agenda

Union opts to hire lawyer to conduct review of electoral policies

Several proposed reforms to the University of Toronto Students’ Union electoral policy were quashed Sunday after it was announced that the amendments had been submitted past the deadline — a deadline that, according to some, was intentionally obscured to prevent the  proposed changes from coming before next week’s annual general meeting.

The UTSU found itself on the defensive after student co-head of Trinity College Sam Greene charged that the union “deliberately attempted to stifle proposals and amendments” that he believes should be discussed during Thursday’s high-profile meeting. Trinity College will vote Monday on a motion calling for the resignation of union executives.

All UTSU constituents are eligible to attend the annual general meeting, to be held this Thursday. In recent years, the AGM has served as a de facto battleground for pro- and anti-union groups. (for more, see pg 5)

The amendments, which were developed by Greene in conjunction with other college leaders, were not added to the AGM agenda because they were submitted too late to be vetted by the Policy and Procedures Committee and the Board of Directors.

Some of the changes proposed by Greene included removing the ability to use proxies in voting at AGMs as well as reducing the minimum number of nominations needed to run as a candidate in future elections.

The amendments were developed in part to operationalize changes initially proposed by a  non-binding, non-partisan declaration circulated by the St. George Round Table. Various campus groups have endorsed the declaration, including the Trinity College Meeting, the University College Literary and Athletic Society, the Engineering Society and most recently, the St. Michael’s College Student Union.

Instead of entertaining the reforms at Tuesday’s AGM, union executives moved late last week to allocate $17,000 to hire a lawyer to perform an “independent and bipartisan review of elections procedure.” UTSU president Shaun Shepherd said that the review will be completed prior to the next election.

Absent Greene’s amendments, the union will discuss a largely uncontroversial agenda that tinkers with several components of UTSU bylaws.

Last year’s AGM mandated that the UTSU would be required to advertise future meetings in vaguely defined “campus publications.” This year, it is being proposed that “campus publication” be clarified to mean The Varsity and the newspaper.

The role of the vice president– campus life is also to be altered. The job currently calls for “one clubs day and at least one clubs resource session each semester.” The proposed change will describe the job as “chief liaison with union-recognized campus groups.”

Angered by the what he calls the union’s “obfuscation,” Greene took to Facebook, claiming that he had specifically emailed UTSU vice president-internal and Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) chair Corey Scott to ask if there was a deadline for proposal submission to the AGM.

The response, according to Greene, “was not forthcoming.”

In an interview with The Varsity, Scott maintained that he responded to Greene’s request by informing him about the policy for proposal submission, and specifically that “unfortunately, he would be unable to submit proposals to the AGM [this year]”.

Greene rejected Scott’s claims as a “lie”, saying he hadn’t received a response. Greene also noted that even if Scott had responded when Scott claims he did (allegedly on November 7), it would have come too late for Greene to have the time to react.

“Due to the nature of the bylaws surrounding reform, it is unlikely Sam would have been able to get his proposals in anyways,” Scott says. “Something that wasn’t understood is that the firm deadline for submitting proposals comes way in advance of the AGM and that [the proposals] need to be vetted by the Policy and Procedures Committee first.

“There is no malicious intent anywhere. In fact, I would say the approach that Sam took is disingenuous and a bit offensive.”

When pressed on the allegation that he had responded late to Greene’s email, Scott did say that “the end of October and early November is a hectic period, where we’re finishing up our budgeting cycle and we’re trying to get international student identity cards. So, I made it a priority to get those done and while I try to get to emails as fast as I can, I don’t have hordes and hordes of executive assistants working behind me.”

Greene believes the email conflict speaks to a larger issue.

“It’s obvious that the UTSU executive is deliberately trying to conceal information. They’re working as hard as they can to ensure that students’ voices aren’t heard,” says Greene. “I don’t see the point in having an AGM if its only purpose is to rubber stamp pre-approved Union policy. What Corey has done in this case is indicative of a broader culture of paranoia and non-transparency where requests for basic information by students are ignored or denied, and opposing voices are marginalized.”

Mike Cowan, president of the St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU), agrees. He believes the UTSU had a duty to publicize the deadline and procedures to the general public in order to ensure all prospective issues could come to light and be discussed at the AGM.

Asked about Cowan’s concerns, Corey Scott said: “Should we add that to the website? Sure. I think we can add that but people need to let me know what most of the concerns are.”

Cowan said he finds it difficult to believe that Scott hasn’t heard any of these concerns before. “The by-law amendments that Sam sent were not rooted in partisan-politics. [Our] amendments were drafted with the intention of bettering the system the UTSU works in, and they were shot down evidently out of spite for anyone who wants to do something productive for this university’s students, and to do it with legitimate representation of the general student voice.”

An “extremely frustrated” Cowan maintains that he is “not just expressing [his] personal views, but the opinions of the SMCSU.”

“Whatever we say, it’s going to be interpreted as something that is partisan,” Scott says. “It is going to be interpreted as the most evil thing ever. That’s why I think the best thing to do is get a legal opinion on it to make sure we have strong election procedures.”

Rishi Maharaj, president of the Engineering Society finds the move to hire legal counsel unconvincing. “The refusal to even discuss the most patently reasonable reforms to the UTSU — such as requiring sitting executives to actually be students or to institute preferential voting so that voters’ intentions can be captured more accurately — demonstrates that the current executive opposes anything that would dilute their power. Their defense is singularly shallow: it is not illegal for them to do this.

“They may very well be right about that, but it is certainly unethical, and most importantly, destructive of the aims that the UTSU was founded to promote.”

Naylor defends Access Copyright agreement

Student unions call for university to reject agreement come 2013 renewal

Naylor defends  Access Copyright agreement

U of T president David Naylor defended the controversial Access Copyright agreement at a Governing Council meeting Tuesday, saying the university’s early ratification of the agreement, which has been widely criticized, gave it more flexibility on copyright issues.

“We adopted the [agreement] early on to see if we could be first movers,” Naylor said. “We sought first mover status to see what we could do to secure a reasonable price and to make sure we had an early exit.”

Access Copyright is a Canadian non-profit collective representing copyright holders and publishers . The terms of its 2011 agreement with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada would raise the annual fee universities pay for copyrighted material from $3.38 to $26 per full-time student .

The University of Toronto and the Western University both signed the agreement in January . Other Canadian universities have opposed the new agreement, and over a dozen have refused to sign it, including UBC, York, and Queen’s .

Opposition among U of T students and faculty has also been considerable.

“Student unions stand united with faculty and with student unions across the province in our criticism that Access Copyright has no legal basis, as we saw in the recent Supreme Court ruling,” said Erin Oldynski, external commissioner of the Graduate Students’ Union, during the Governing Council meeting.

Oldynski expressed concerns about the agreement’s potential impact on academic freedom, and criticized the university for its failure to consult students and faculty before signing the agreement.

“The student unions recommend that Governing Council move a motion for U of T to reject Access Copyright when it comes up for renewal in 2013,” she concluded.

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling in July expanded the definition of materials considered “fair dealing” and therefore exempt from copyright . Interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling has been mixed to date.

“There can be no question the Supreme Court’s rulings are a serious blow to Access Copyright,” wrote Ariel Katz, an associate professor at the Faculty of Law. “The message from the Supreme Court to users is clear: Fair dealing is real; fair dealing is important; do try it at home!”

Access Copyright disputed the significance of the ruling in a July press release, claiming it would have a “limited impact on the importance of the Access Copyright license.”

“The Supreme Court was only looking at about seven per cent of the copying done in schools,” said Maureen Cavan, executive director of Access Copyright. “The decision absolutely does not mean a free-for-all on copyright-protected materials. On the contrary, it leaves copyright licensing in the education sector alive and well.”

With the current status of the Access Copyright agreement in flux, Naylor said the university’s long-term goals were to widen the interpretation of “fair dealing” and to reduce costs.

“This is a very fluid and quite contentious playing field,” Naylor said later in the Governing Council meeting. “The view that this was somehow a done deal when the Supreme Court ruled is not true, I’m afraid: this will continue to evolve, and the key right now is to have an aggressive but principled approach to fair dealing.”

“We certainly have some sympathy with those who argue that it would be ideal for the university to go at this alone at some point. But let’s watch and see how this unfolds in the months ahead.”

Conflicting visions, no solutions

The Ontario government's discussion paper on education fails to address our real challenges

Conflicting visions, no solutions

Since its release in June, the discussion paper “Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity, Innovation and Knowledge” has generated significant controversy and criticism. Groups representing students, faculty, and university administration have voiced their concerns about its proposals: the limitations imposed on students by three-year degrees, the dubious substitution of online courses for those taught in real classrooms, the challenge of transferring credits between institutions, the possibility that standardized assessments will be used to measure university outcomes, and — most importantly — a tacit but clear focus on the commercialization of research.

The UTSU town hall meeting BERNARDA GOSPIC/THE VARSITY

Amidst the outcry, it is important to understand that discussion papers are supposed to set out potential policies and attract input from those affected. Despite this consultative purpose, Minister for Training, Colleges and Universities Glen Murray has, on Twitter, attacked student leaders and faculty who have offered informal criticism of the paper. Murray called the UTSU-organized town hall to discuss the paper a “festival of misinformation” and characterized his critics as being against innovation. The minister’s vitriolic criticism is inappropriate in the context of a paper that is supposed to attract suggestions, not offer ironclad policy. Murray’s behavior seems to suggest that the government is committed to the vision for education set out in the discussion paper; if that is true, students and faculty have a right to be concerned.

The central problem of the discussion paper is that its policy proposals do not further its stated vision for higher education. The government’s purported goals are outlined under the heading “A Vision for Ontario’s Postsecondary Education Sector,” and are worth quoting in full:

“The vision presented by our government is: Ontario’s colleges and universities will drive creativity, innovation, knowledge, and community engagement through teaching and research. They will put students first by providing the best possible learning experience for all qualified learners in an affordable and financially sustainable way, ensuring high quality, and globally competitive outcomes for students and Ontario’s creative economy.”

It is difficult to disentangle a meaning from this barren collection of platitudes. But stripped of rhetoric, it is a shockingly simplistic idea: colleges and universities will continue to give students the best education we can afford in the hopes that the results will be good for students and the economy. It is hard to imagine that a statement so banal, so devoid of innovation and leadership, is truly our government’s plan for such a vital area of public policy.

It seems, instead, that the government is using this jungle of jargon to distract public attention from their unstated vision: the government hopes to make post-secondary education do more for less, and does not seem to see the value of an idea beyond its ability to make money. No matter what shape they are presented in, shorter degrees and online classes are cost-cutting measures that will inevitably decrease the quality and value of an undergraduate degree.

Meanwhile, the paper largely ignores graduate programs and research in favour of entrepreneurship and vocational training. The government, it seems, would encourage programs that have the most obvious and immediate economic benefits at the expense of styles of education that take longer to produce a return on the public’s investment.

The government is asking universities to be too many things to too many people. Job training and entrepreneurship have never been more than side-benefits of a university education. If those are the government’s priorities, it should advance them through institutions focused on training, rather than tacking these demands onto a university’s mandate. Our leading universities should be centres of excellence — institutions intended to produce new ideas, creative thinking, and capable graduates through unprescribed learning and innovation.

This may not be a vision with which everyone agrees. But at the moment, any attempt to discuss the merits of any plan for higher education is hopeless, since the key actor in this question refuses to state its position outright and attacks anyone who tries to voice an opinion. Students need to see a single, clear and comprehensive statement of their government’s vision for post-secondary education because that would be something worth discussing.

Previous coverage:

Students, staff critique provincial plan at emergency town hall

Boycott of publishing giant Elsevier gathers pace

Frustrated by what they call an exploitative business model and unreasonable prices, researchers at U of T have joined a growing movement asking: how much must we pay for knowledge?

Boycott of publishing giant Elsevier gathers pace

Over 12,000 academics, including 55 from the University of Toronto, have signed a petition to boycott Elsevier, a leading academic publisher in the scientific, technical and medical realms. The Dutch corporation has come under fire in recent months for its controversial business model, sky-high prices, and lobbying efforts to restrict academic freedom.

“Elsevier is based on a business model in which academics do almost all the work for free,” explains Dr. Rachel Barney, a philosophy professor at U of T.

Academic publishers like Elsevier do not pay the academics and researchers who submit papers for publication, nor those who peer-review the papers to ensure their accuracy. Much of the research in papers published in journals distributed by Elsevier is funded by taxpayer dollars, enabling the company to keep expenses low.

Elsevier sells these journals back to public institutions like the University of Toronto for tens of thousands of dollars, frequently bundling together different journals to justify raising the sticker price.

Under this arrangement, Elsevier reaped profits of approximately $1.2 billion in 2010, a 36 per cent profit margin that is almost unheard of in the publishing industry.

“We’ve been talking about the astronomical journal price increases for quite a long time,” said Caitlin Tillman, head of collection development for the University of Toronto’s library system. “What’s interesting about this Elsevier boycott is that it comes from the faculty, and not the libraries.”

The boycott began with Cambridge professor Timothy Gowers. In a January 2012 blog post, Gowers vowed that he would not publish, peer review, or serve on the editorial boards of any of the over 2,600 journals Elsevier publishes.

In an official statement released in response to the boycott, Elsevier explains that they do not force libraries to purchase their journals. But librarians say that the journals are so prohibitively priced when purchased individually that they have no choice but to buy in bundles.

“They’ll bundle five or 10 together so that if you want one, you need to buy the whole set,” said Julie Hannaford, Associate Librarian for the Social Sciences and Humanities at U of T.

Journal prices have been rising for over 25 years, says Tillman, adding, “I would say the average price increase was four to five per cent.”

U of T’s libraries receive a yearly two per cent funding increase to cover inflation costs. But the price of journal subscriptions, particularly in science, technology and medicine, have outpaced this allowance, rising by around seven to nine per cent every year explains Tillman.

As a result, journals eat up more of libraries’ budgets, both at U of T and abroad. One survey found that in Britain, school libraries were spending an average of 65 per cent on subscriptions alone.

Last year, the University of Toronto cut all of its print subscriptions to journals that offered digital subscriptions. Tillman warns that “sooner rather then later” the library will have to make cuts that effect content.

Some suggest that part of the problem is the broader structure of academia. In some fields, a publish-or-die mentality has allowed publishers such as Elsevier to entrench their position. Publication credits in certain reputable journals are a key metric for hiring and promoting professors, and it increasingly serves in admissions processes to competitive research programs. Elsevier publishes some of the largest and most well-known journals including The Lancet series of journals.

“This has very little to do with academic publishing,” says James Romanow, co-chair of Access Copyright “All they’ve got to do is stop subscribing and stop using [journal articles] as a metric for hiring and promotion.”

Elsevier is one of the three large commercial publishers in the industry, which together account for approximately 42 per cent of the academic journals printed worldwide. By limiting their boycott to Elsevier, academics can register their objections, while retaining the opportunity to publish their work elsewhere.

“Pretty much across the board Elsevier is the most expensive” says Tillman. She stresses that large academic publishers strictly enforce confidentially agreements, so it is difficult to know for sure.

 

COPYRIGHT LOBBYING CEMENTS FRUSTRATION

A growing sense of frustration with Elsevier was further cemented when the company last year announced its support for controversial American copyright laws including the Stop Online Piracy Act, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Research Works Act.

Elsevier lobbied heavily in favour of the Research Works Act, which would have restricted open access for federally funded academic research in the United States.

If the bill had become law, academics would no longer have been allowed to share their own work publicly on personal websites or in an email to friends or colleagues. Publishers would have been granted complete control over anything printed in their publications. Elsevier withdrew its support for the measure in February of this year.

Steve Easterbrook, a computer science professor at U of T and a signatory on the petition, says he joined the boycott because of rising costs and bundling practices, but “above all [because of] their attempts to restrict open access journals.”

“When I publish something, it’s because I believe it’s worth sharing. I want anyone who wants to read my work to be able to read my work,” says Easterbrook. Easterbrook now publishes his work on his own website under a creative commons license, as well as through traditional print publications.

 

A CHANGE IS COMING 

Open access efforts such as Easterbrook’s are on the rise worldwide. At U of T, a self-archiving system called T-space allows academics to make their work available online.

Others have taken matters into their own hands, creating not-for-profit journals that anyone can access and read.

In 2006, the entire editorial board of Topology, an Elsevier-owned mathematics journal, resigned in protest. The next day, the same board members formed a not-for- profit journal called Journal of Topology, which continues to publish today.

Cases like the Topology resignation are rare, but for many, they represent some hope for the future. Still, these open access journals are not a perfect solution. “Some of these journals have no status, because they’re putting up unreferreed work,” cautions Romanow.

The open access movement is also beginning to receive some legislative support. The European Commission announced this summer that all research published from 2014 through 2020 that is funded by the Commission’s more than $100 billion in grants must be made freely and openly accessible.

The commission’s decision followed on the heels of an announcement in the UK, committing to making publicly funded research freely available by 2014.

Despite advancements in open access, the problem of cost remains. In April, the Library Advisory Committee of Harvard University, the most affluent post-secondary institution in the world, published a report calling the rising price of journals “fiscally unsustainable” and “academically restrictive.” According to the report, Harvard spends $3.5 million annually on subscriptions to corporate publishers like Elsevier.

Elsevier claims their business model makes it possible for researchers “to have their work efficiently reviewed, enhanced, validated, recognized, discovered and made highly accessible.” But as library budgets tighten and the boycott gathers steam, Elsevier’s grip on the world of academic publishing grows looser each day.

Supreme Court rulings undermine Access Copyright

July decisions prompt renewed calls to void controversial U of T agreement

Supreme Court rulings undermine Access Copyright

A Supreme Court of Canada ruling has left a controversial agreement between the University of Toronto and Access Copyright largely intact, although the UTSU renewed its calls for the university to pull out of the agreement.

In July, the Supreme Court delivered a series of rulings that dealt a serious blow to Access Copyright’s business model, generously expanding the definition of the fair use of copyright materials for educational purposes, but only, it appears, for grades kindergarten through 12.

“The Supreme Court decision against Access Copyright gives students hope that the collection of these fees will be halted,” said Munib Sajjad, vice-president, university affairs for the University of Toronto Students’ Union. “Students’ access to necessary material should not be burdened by unfair, unnecessary fees for Access Copyright.”

Access Copyright, a non-profit collective that represents copyright holders and publishers, signed an agreement with the university last January. U of T was one of only two universities (the other being the University of Western Ontario) to sign the contentious agreement, which drew swift condemnation from students, faculty, and copyright experts.

Under the agreement, U of T students must pay $27.50 (up from $3.38) to digitally access copyright materials as part of their education; the deal also introduced invasive restrictions on sending emails with links to such materials. Fourteen other universities, including Queen’s, UBC, Waterloo, Guelph and Carleton, refused to sign the agreement.

“Students rely on access to content for the purposes of education,” said Sajjad. “The Copyright Act allows students to access content for educational purposes — there should be no fee. Access Copyright is scamming students. We hope the University of Toronto joins its peers across the country and reconsiders its agreement with Access Copyright.”

When the agreement was signed, Cheryl Misak, vice-president and provost, stated that the university believed the agreement was “fair for all the parties — those who create the materials, as well as students who gain access to copyright materials through the university.” Since Access Copyright has demanded $45 dollars per student from other universities, it is possible that U of T, by agreeing early to the terms of the deal, may have saved U of T students some money.

City council torpedoes proposed student residence

The standoff over approval for an off-campus residence has reduced university-neighbour relations to their lowest point in years.

City council torpedoes proposed student residence

Toronto City Council voted Friday to oppose the development of a privately-run residence for U of T students, to be located on College Street. The vote is yet another setback in the university’s efforts to meet burgeoning demand for housing spaces on its St. George campus.

City councillors, who declined to approve the zoning amendments necessary for construction on the project to begin, opted to dispatch city staff to speak against the project when it comes up for appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board in the fall.

Although the proposed residence would house U of T students, Toronto developer Knightstone Capital Management has been pursuing approval for the project at City Hall, as well as hosting the requisite community consultations on behalf of the university. The land on which the proposed residence would be built was leased to Knightstone by the university in 2010.

Knightstone initially proposed a 42-storey residence of glass and steel, later scaled back to 24 storeys after the degree of local opposition to the development became clear.

Ralph Daley, president of the Grange Community Association, said his main concern was that the residence was a poor fit for the surrounding neighbourhood.

“We’re in favour of students, we’re in favour of student residences; we are not in favour of this building,” said Daley. “It has to fit into the community.”

Although Daley, who spoke at the council meeting Friday, and other community leaders stress that their concern is limited to the Knightstone residence, U of T and its neighbours have been at odds over development beyond the university’s perimeter for several years. The Knightstone proposal appears to have brought these simmering tensions to the fore.

“We’re going to war,” threatened Rory (Gus) Sinclair, a board member of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association, to The Globe and Mail in June. “Co-operation is over.”

In a June op-ed in the Toronto Star, Daley and the letter’s co-authors allude to a history of conflict between U of T students and the communities surrounding campus. Last year, the Annex made headlines over a plan to license and regulate fraternity and sorority households in the neighbourhood, after repeated complaints about unruly student behaviour.

City Council considered the proposal late in session July 13. Following the unanimous approval of an amendment introduced by councilor Adam Vaughan, intended to close off a legal loophole concerning boarding houses, Council again voted unanimously to reject the Knightstone proposal as it stood, and instructed city staff to oppose it in the fall.

Vaughan, whose constituency includes a substantial portion of the St. George campus, has been a particularly vocal opponent of the Knightstone plan.

Vaughan expressed concern several times in the spring that the university has persistently “refused to divulge” information on the development. The university released its contract with Knightstone Capital in May, after initially withholding the document because of a non-disclosure clause that has since been mutually waived by Knightstone and U of T.

Relations worsened when the university, in a statement, charged that Vaughan had “uncharacteristically threatened to use his office to damage the University’s interests in various ways.” Vaughan denied these accusations in an interview with The Varsity on Friday.

“I’ve tried in the last six years to work well with the university,” said Vaughan, referring to his efforts to ease the development of university projects such as Rotman Central and the Mining Building. “But this is a terrible housing proposal. It’s warehousing of students in substandard housing.”

Vaughan has met with U of T president David Naylor twice in the last year, in an attempt to find an acceptable solution. Both the university and Vaughan expressed a desire to return to a more “positively collaborative” relationship.

The University of Toronto is not the only Canadian university looking at private sector solutions to its student residence problems. Trent University entered into an agreement in 2011 that would see Residence Development Corp., a private real-estate concern, own and operate a new student residence.

Under the terms of the lease the university stands to receive an annual fee of $350,000 for 99 years, adjusted for inflation. The money would be directed to Student Life programs and services.

But council’s opposition to the proposal leaves the university in a difficult position. Demand for affordable student housing has increased significantly in recent years as the student population on the St. George campus has continued to grow.

Currently just one in four St. George students can be accomodated in university housing. Internal university reports have suggested that the best solution to the housing crunch would be to construct high-density residence towers like the exisiting Chestnut Residence on Dundas Street. But with local residents riled up, and city council seemingly unwilling to approve the construction of any such towers, the way forward for the university remains unclear.

Ontario budget cuts angers students

Government will discontinue some grants, bursaries, and study-abroad scholarships, place a cap on extra credits, and decrease international student funding

As part of an effort to eliminate Ontario’s $16 billion deficit, finance minister Dwight Duncan tabled the 2012 provincial budget Tuesday, which included holding annual education sector spending to 1.7 per cent and other cost-cutting measures that will affect postsecondary students.

“The single most important thing is to balance the budget,” Duncan told the assembled media on Tuesday.

Among other cuts to the education sector, the government intends to “scale back or discontinue non-core grants and bursaries” to compensate for the 30 per cent Ontario tuition grant, place a cap on extra secondary school credits, eliminate study-abroad scholarships, reduce funding to institutions for non-PhD, and decrease international student funding.

Cancellations to the non-core grants, which are expected to save $84.2 million over three years, will apply to the Ontario Textbook and Technology Grant and the Ontario Trust for Student Support. The Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship will be gradually withdrawn over three years. The Small, Northern, and Rural Grant will also be discontinued.

Duncan said the primary aim of the budget is to reduce the deficit in order to stimulate the economy and produce jobs.

“The budget takes strong action and makes the right choices to protect the results we’ve achieved in health care and education,” he said.

Despite economist Don Drummond’s recommendations, the budget will keep funding for full-day kindergarten — to be implemented by 2014 — maintain a cap on class sizes, and continue the 30 per cent tuition grant for eligible college and university students.

However, Sandy Hudson, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, Ontario, said the budget was further evidence of “a broken promise” to students after the Liberals campaigned on a pledge to reduce tuition fees by 30 per cent.

“Students are very frustrated about the budget right now,” she said.

Hudson was critical of the fact that only one-third of students — 300,000 Ontario students — are eligible for the 30 per cent tuition grant, while tuition fees have increased by five per cent, and nine financial assistance programs will now be cut.

“For every dollar that’s been invested in student financial aid, $1.20 has been clawed back through the cuts, and so students feel that they’ve been betrayed time and time again by this government,” Hudson said.

The budget also proposes a cap on excess secondary school credits — at 34 beyond the requisite 30 — which executive director of People for Education Annie Kidder said will limit students’ ability to plan effectively before attending university.

“I was really seriously surprised to see a cap on high school credits,” Kidder said. “[The budget] says it’s going to give them an incentive to plan well, but I’ve had teenagers and they don’t plan well… They need to have that flexibility in high school.”

Study-abroad scholarships and funding for non-PhD international students are also on the chopping block. This could mean that institutions will be forced to charge higher tuition fees for international students in order to eliminate the provincial deficit, said a former CUPE Local 3902 Unit 1 bargaining team member.

“We are already in a situation which is viable for only the richest international students or those willing to take on a huge debt sentence, and this will be further off-loading the provincial deficit onto those same students,” said Ashleigh Ingle, who is also running for a position on the Graduate Student Council. “The exclusion of working class people from an educational institution, no matter where they are from, is a sign of an unhealthy system.”

She added that the cancellation of study-abroad scholarships would constrain students’ university experiences and global perspectives.

U of T spokesperson Laurie Stephens said they can’t comment on the budget or its contents at this moment.

“There are a number of measures in the provincial budget that will have an impact on Ontario universities. The university is examining those measures to ensure it has a full understanding of what they mean to the U of T,” she said.

A spokesperson from the admissions and awards office could not be reached for comment on Friday.