Deregulation of professional programs draws closer to reality
By Sara Marett
Recent comments by President Paul Davenport at last Thursday's Board of Governors meeting regarding the setting of tuition levels for professional programs may result in deregulated tuition fees for many Western students next year.
The provincial government announced in December they would allow universities to raise tuition for all undergraduate programs by 20 per cent over the next two years and deregulate graduate and professional programs at the discretion of university's respective Boards of Governors. Davenport said he was not yet sure what would constitute a "professional program" under this announcement.
"This definition will be set by the Ministry of Education we are awaiting a list of what professional programs can be deregulated," he said.
Davenport then showed Board members a list of what he expects the government's list to look like. Included were programs such as medicine, dentistry, law, business, nursing, education, engineering, computer science, kinesiology, occupational and physical therapy and music. He added once the Ministry releases the list of acceptable professional programs, the Board will then decide which ones require deregulated fees.
The Ministry said they are consulting with the province's universities and colleges to come to a decision as to what constitutes a professional program, said spokesperson Daniele Gauvin. She said elements of a professional program might be the type of job opportunities available to graduates, the marketability of the program and perspective earnings after graduation. She added the Ministry should be releasing their list of acceptable programs in the next few weeks.
Student Board member and University Students' Council VP-student issues Sam Castiglione said he is very concerned about Davenport's comments. "Obviously what [the students] think professional programs to be is quite different than how the university views professional programs."
Castiglione said students view professional programs as a higher form of education usually done following some kind of undergraduate schooling. "The administration, however, is not delineating between graduate and undergraduate as obviously it makes more sense to deregulate an undergraduate business program than a Master's English program."
Dean of music Jeffrey Stokes agreed that each program must be evaluated on its own merit. "An undergraduate music program should not be compared to undergraduate programs such as business or law."