Volume 93, Issue 100

Thursday, April 6, 2000


UBC may adopt differential tuition

Awards to diversify industry

Toronto's code jumps first hurdle

Problems with toxic blob continue to grow

United Way tips hat to Students' Council


Golf courses get jump start

UBC may adopt differential tuition

By Mike Murphy
Gazette Staff

The University of British Columbia's tuition policy committee has proposed undergraduate students start paying for what they get.

Last month, the committee recommended UBC adopt a differential tuition scheme for undergraduates, under which students would pay different fees depending on their faculty.

Presently, unlike most Canadian universities, domestic undergraduates at UBC in non-professional faculties each pay $2,300 per year, whether they take courses in engineering or English, said Neil Guppy, UBC's associate VP of academic programs and co-chair of the committee.

"The change is based on a principle that says students should pay the actual cost of instruction for the program that they're in," he said.

Guppy explained the B.C. government had enforced a post-secondary tuition freeze for the past five years, so the proposal would only apply if tuition rates were unfrozen. "If the freeze ever is lifted, we need to have a plan as to how we want to allocate tuition levels," he said.

UBC's Alma Mater Society has taken a stand against the proposal. Erfam Kazemi, VP of academic and university affairs for the AMS, said the school's administration should take more time to listen to student opinion on the matter. "There have been some unofficial polls conducted and there seems to be a split in what students feel," he said.

Kazemi added students might not have all the facts. "I'm not exactly sure if students are completely informed about the issue," he said, explaining students might accept differential tuition, but only if increased fees meant a better and more valuable educational experience.

According to Western's web site, a full-time undergraduate engineering student can expect to pay $4,250 per year, whereas an arts student pays $3,845.

Western's VP-academic, Greg Moran, said differential tuition was a fairly recent phenomenon at this university. "We didn't have the authority to set differential tuition fees until about four years ago," he explained, adding this power was granted when the provincial government made significant budget cuts to post-secondary education.

Guppy said the most difficult issue surrounding differential tuition rates was the manner in which an institution could determine program cost. "The kernel of this issue comes with the cost of instruction," he said. "We need a mechanism to figure out what the cost of instruction should be."

David Wehrung, a professor of commerce at UBC and co-chair of the committee, said he believed cost could be reasonably estimated. "I do believe, as a professor of commerce, that it's possible to cost-out any product or service that an organization delivers."

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