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Tuition fees continue upward spiral, hit new high at Western

CMAJ 2001;164(11):1610 [PDF]

New medical students at the University of Western Ontario in London are facing tuition-fee increases of $4000 per year this September, a move that will give Western the second highest tuition fees among Canada's 16 medical schools.

The increase will boost first-year fees by 40%, to $14 000 per year, while students in other years face a 5% increase. Meanwhile, tuition at the University of Toronto will rise by 5%, to $14 700, for the 2001/02 academic year. Western's fees will be slightly higher than the $13 500 paid by medical students at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Not alone: students across Canada are protesting high tuition fees
(Canapress, Tom Hanson)
Ontario's fees are by far the highest in the country. For instance, first-year medical students attending the University of British Columbia pay only about $5000 per year for tuition.

The increase at Western will apply only to new students, but current students claim it will create a situation in which applicants from poor families will be unable to pursue a medical degree.

They say that only 15% of students now enrolled there are from families in which the annual income is under $60 000. The average family income of this year's freshman medical students was $142 000, which the students say is triple the provincial average for household incomes.

The province's tuition trends worry Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the Ontario Medical Association, who says the maximum student loan available under the Ontario Student Assistance Program is $11 000 per year.

The OMA is concerned that high fees will not only deter some students but will lead to changes in their choice of residency programs. Instead of following their interests, students may specialize in an area they can complete quicker, or one that has the potential to provide a higher income.

Jason Kur, a fourth-year student at the University of Alberta who serves as president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, said Western's increase stands out only because it is the largest.

He said medical students accept that they have to pay higher fees, but many are still reeling from the size of the increases. — Cameron Johnston, London, Ont.



Copyright 2001 Canadian Medical Association or its licensors