TORONTO (CUP) — With the University of Toronto law school passing a contentious five-year plan that will nearly double tuition fees to $22,000 per year, York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School may soon follow suit.
Cheryl Sullivan, director of communications at U of T’s faculty of law, says the plan is not about tuition fees but a bid to make the university one of the world’s top law schools.
“It’s a broad vision we would like to see — a goal of becoming an international, relevant law school in the world,” said Sullivan. “This plan is a road map for us to get there.”
Queen University’s faculty of law dean Allison Harvison Young concurs, saying boosting fees is a necessary measure to ensure the university’s law school can provide quality education.
On Feb. 1, Queen’s faculty of law held a board meeting addressing Harvison Young’s proposal to raise tuition.
“The size of the increase has been necessitated by continuing cutbacks in government support and the rising costs,” Harvison Young said. “The recruitment of newer professors has become more expensive. Another factor for us is the reality of facilities that are in desperate need of renovation, and which are at present inaccessible.”
Ontario chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Joel Duff fears the hefty price tag will make the school less accessible to students. He says the university is only investing in corporate law.
“This plan is an unmitigated disaster for accessibility,” said Duff. “It will completely wipe off equality of opportunity.”
At last Thursday’s public meeting on the issue, the U of T’s faculty council, made up of 42 faculty and 14 students, voted 37-13 in favour of the move to raise fees. There was one abstention and five council members were not present.
The plan must now go before the provost and then receive final approval by the university’s governing council.
First-year U of T law student Shaun Laubman, who was at the meeting, was displeased with the results.
“You’ve said that we would have to accept that some faculty might not be here, but you’ve also got to be prepared to accept that some students won’t be here,” said Laubman.
The plan will hike the $12,000 annual tuition by $2,000 a year for the next five years, as well as raise faculty salaries.
At York, the issue of higher fees for law school is currently being discussed.
“We do have a study being prepared as to tuition needs,” said Peter Hogg, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School. “A proposal will be circulating in the next few weeks within the faculty and students at Osgoode.”
Presently the average tuition for first- and second-year law students is $8,000 per year. Third-year students pay $4,600 a year.
Hogg says the proposal, if successful, will not affect existing students.