MBA students get answers from administration
By Mark Brown
Western administrators tried to curb student fears over a proposed tuition hike for Western's masters of business administration program at an open meeting yesterday.
The proposal is an increase over four years from its current level of $3,186 to an expected $18,000.
Some who attended the meeting questioned the affect the proposed tuition changes would have on accessibility to the program.
"I thought about applying to the MBA program but now I can't not if they make it full cost recovery," said Maria Guitta, a staff member in the psychology department at Western. "I'm outraged!"
"The student already has a high debt," added Pamele Brown, a London resident. "Eighteen thousand is only a tuition fee it doesn't cover the cost of living."
However, the dean of the Richard Ivey School of Business said he felt the program would still be accessible to students. "There are going to be more scholarships awarded," Lawrence Tapp said. "Money won't come from public funds, [however, the school] will still be subsidized by private groups and the money raised by the Ivey school."
Tapp added that as of this week, about $6 million had been raised by the school.
Despite the news of tuition hikes, applications to the school are up 50 per cent over last year, Tapp said. He added the school is still losing students to higher-priced U.S. schools, showing they are not price sensitive.
Associate dean of business, Jeffrey Gandz, said students who go to an MBA program in the United States will pay $30,000 to $40,000 Cdn.
Joel Adams, a student senator, said the move to full-cost recovery is a good move for Western as a whole. "It seems to be a good program, as long as they address that this is not a precedent," Adams said.
There are only a few programs in Ontario that are eligible for full-cost recovery, said Western's president Paul Davenport. "There is a substantial advantage to students who graduate."
Gandz said 90 per cent of graduates of the current program have full-time work, with the average first-year salary being $88,000. He added the biggest cost is in lost earnings.
Davenport said the average salary of the person coming into the program is $50,000 which makes it possible to charge higher fees.
"The basic premise is that we are facing a problem here," said Western's VP-academic, Greg Moran.
He added $24 million was cut last year from government grants to Western, creating a resource problem for the faculty which could also threaten the standard of the program.
Another program being considered for a full-cost recovery program is the orthodonture program in dentistry, Davenport said. This program has only a few students who are expected to be able to handle a heavier debt load upon graduation.