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Tuition effects to be surveyed
By Mark Brown
A $10,000 message has been sent to Western's senior administration telling them to speed up their research into how accessibility has been affected by tuition increases.
The money was recently set aside by Robert McMurtry, dean of medicine and dentistry, to conduct an independent survey of medical and dentistry students. McMurtry said to show the urgency of this matter the money was taken out of an already tight budget.
Western's VP-academic Greg Moran said he had not heard McMurtry had set aside the money to conduct the survey but added the university wants to survey all students, not just specific faculties.
Currently, McMurtry said he is trying to negotiate the format of the survey. "It has to influence our decision making."
Herbert Brill, VP-external junior of the hippocratic council for the faculty of medicine and dentistry, was also concerned about how the university was going to use the survey. "I'm wondering what good a survey is going to do if they are not going to change their course."
Moran said he would not commit to any particular course of action until he had a chance to see the information from the survey.
He added the information would probably be used to make sure financial aid is getting to students at the appropriate time and to determine future tuition levels.
Although the medical students have conducted their own survey, the administration has refused to accept the results. "The administration of the university has repeatedly said they don't take into account our survey," said Shiva Jayaraman, president of Western's medical class of 2002. "It's very frustrating."
A number of people, including McMurtry, questioned why senior administration has waited so long to conduct this survey.
"The position I have taken is that we should freeze tuition until we see the full effects," McMurtry said. He added this is a difficult position to take since it would cost the faculty $140,000 if tuition in medicine was frozen. "I'm more concerned about the welfare of our students."
McMurtry said he has been concerned because of the information which was collected by medical students.
"We needed this last year," said Ian Amour, president of University Students' Council. He added he has been putting a lot of pressure on senior administration to carry out an independent survey.
Armour added he could see why the university has taken so long to conduct this survey. "They may not be that ambitious to do this because it could reveal some damaging evidence."
Jayaraman also said this is an urgent issue since there are people in medicine who are already struggling to finish.
Moran defended the university's timing. "We want to do it right," he said. There are several things which have to be considered before conducting a survey of this nature, Moran added.
One of the things which has to be considered is the best time to conduct this survey, he said, adding issues involving confidentiality and privacy also have to be addressed.
Brill said he would like the opportunity to talk to the independent company conducting the survey to ensure they are not just collecting information the university wants to hear.