By Sara Marett
Western's administration is behind the game in its schedule to set tuition fees for the upcoming school year but has a plan to accommodate students enrolled in spring session who are wondering how much to write their tuition check for.
At yesterday's Board of Governor's meeting, President Paul Davenport explained why the administration has not yet brought a proposal to Board members regarding the setting of 1998-99 tuition fees. This is typically decided at the April Board meeting, in time to send out tuition fee statements to students enrolled in spring session.
"In order for us to present a budget [reflecting tuition levels], we must know our flexibility in setting tuition levels and right now we do not," Davenport said. He explained the administration is anxiously awaiting a definition of what constitutes a 'professional' program from the provincial government before they begin formal discussion on a possible tuition increase.
Because the registrar's office must send fee statements out immediately, the administration announced they would send out statements that reflect a 10 per cent increase across the board for all undergraduate programs and a five per cent increase for all graduate programs.
"If the Board decides in May, when the budget is put forth, to not raise tuition to these [tentative] levels, then students will be given a rebate," Davenport explained. However, if the Board decides to raise tuition levels higher than these amounts, students will only be billed for the greater amount when classes begin in September, he added.
"It's not fair for students who are preparing for spring and summer courses to not know what they need to budget for," said Western's vice-provost and registrar Roma Harris.
University Students' Council President Ryan Parks, however sees this announcement as not just a temporary way to deal with spring session, but a taste of what's to come. "Basically, they've just raised tuition by 10 per cent."
Davenport said fee statements for the spring session, which will be sent out to students on Monday, will contain a cover letter explaining that the fees may change depending on Board's decision in May.
Student Board representative Sam Castiglione said he recognized that the administration had to make some kind of decision in order for incoming students to know what they will be paying in tuition fees. "This is not necessarily a guarantee that the administration will raise tuition by 10 per cent, but they have indicated that this is the direction they would like to go," he said.
Davenport said the administration was counting on having the definition of a 'professional' program from the Ministry of Education in January, which would have been plenty of time to make a decision on tuition fee levels. "We must have this definition by the end of the week or early next week for budget discussions we simply can not move forward without it," he said.
But the government doesn't seem to have this initiative on the top of its list. Ministry of Education spokesperson Daniele Gauvin said there has been no further developments as far as putting this definition together. "It most likely will be completed soon," she said.