Administration gets earful from students
By Dave Yasvinski
Students in the programs hit hardest by deregulation had the opportunity to voice their concerns to university administration Friday.
The meeting gave representatives from the medicine, dentistry and honours business administration programs a forum to express to administration, through 15 minute presentations, what they would like to see in next year's budget.
Manisha Jindal, Western's Dental Student Society president, said they are frustrated because they do not feel their tuition numbers add up. Jindal explained the government allots the university five basic income units for each dental student, each worth $3,400. When this is added to their $14,000 tuition, the university is receiving $31,000 per dental student.
"The cost to educate a dental student stated by [Western President Paul] Davenport many times is $30,000. Our main premise is the dental school is a full cost recovery program," she said.
Jindal said they requested tuition rollbacks for next year's budget, definite freezes on tuition and reinvestment into the faculty. "Students pay so much, they deserve to see an increase in what they're receiving."
"This was our plea. Hopefully, [Davenport] did hear it," she added.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, attended the meeting and said he was content with the manner in which each student representative was given a chance to express their ideas and concerns about their program. He also said many of their concerns were valid ones. "Some students were concerned about the impact of higher fees on access to education and that's something we're worried about we'll be thinking about that," he said.
With respect to the student concern in which some feel they are paying more for their tuition than necessary, Moran said this was an entirely separate issue. "We have never tried to assess the cost of a particular degree program."
Herbert Brill, VP-external junior for the Medical Students' Council, said three recommendations were made on behalf of medical students. The first was that tuition be frozen until the effect it is having on accessibility can be seen and they can properly assess just how much it costs to educate a medical student.
Brill said the council also wants to establish a proper financial safety net so students who cannot afford the increases can get loans or bursaries to offset costs. Finally, they want the residency tuition to be rescinded.
It is difficult to say what administration's response to the presentations will be, Brill added. "They listened, they smiled and there was a discussion going back and forth. They'll let us know in January what tuition will look like in December."