Volume 91, Issue 87

Friday, March 13, 1998

Bottoms up


Tuition game plan

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

After hours at the drawing board, students are ready, aimed and prepared to fire out their plan on how tuition fees should be raised for next year.

The Student Caucus on Governance will be presenting a motion at next Friday's Senate meeting regarding the university's 1998/99 operating budget that allows for a five per cent tuition increase for the next school year.

"Obviously, as students we would all like a zero increase in tuition, but there are other factors we have to consider," said University Students' Council VP-student issues Sam Castiglione.

The motion asks the Senate Committee on University Planning to bring forward an operating budget for 1998/99 based on a maximum five per cent increase in tuition fees that accounts for a 1.6 per cent inflation level for the operating budget.

The caucus' plan is about finding the middle ground in consideration of what students want and what kind of revenue the university must have in order to operate, Castiglione said.

"With government grants frozen, students are becoming the main supporters of the university. If we want this place to get any better, it's going to have to come from us."

Last December, the provincial government announced it would not raise the level of funding for Ontario's post-secondary institutions for the next two years. They also announced universities and colleges would be allowed to raise tuition levels in undergraduate programs by up to 10 per cent for next year, if universities could demonstrate the increase would reflect an improvement to the quality of education.

"We have the numbers to suggest that a five per cent increase would maintain the quality of education we now have. I'm sure the administration will have the numbers to show that they need a 10 per cent increase in order to do so," Castiglione said.

VP-administration Peter Mercer said it would be unrealistic for the administration to bind themselves to a five per cent increase of tuition fees. "There is not a magic figure for an increase, we have to look at the needs of the university." He explained the university is currently facing many areas of rising costs with no increase in funding from the government. "We have to find the funds somewhere."

But that is not to say the administration will not be willing to lend an ear to what students have to say about tuition. "We are absolutely open to suggestions from anyone – particularly students, on how the budget should be shaped. We would like all possibilities to come to the floor," said Shiva Singh, chair of the Senate Committee on University Planning.

When deliberating what kind of budget to present to Senate, SCUP will be looking at a number of different models, including one proposed by the Student Caucus on Governance, he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998