Volume 94, Issue 82

Tuesday, February 27, 2001


Editorial Board 2000-2001

Supply is demanding

Editorial Cartoon

Supply is demanding

When it comes to tuition fees, the adage "What goes up must go down" hardly applies.

A proposal was drafted earlier this month outlining hikes in tuition fees for deregulated professional programs for the 2001/2002 school year.

Although they are only preliminary recommendations, among them is the hefty $5,000 increase for honours business administration students.

Would students be upset? Undoubtedly. Should they be upset? Not necessarily.

Programs like business, law and dentistry at Western should be considered much like Guaranteed Investment Certificates; they are investments – albeit costly ones for most students – in a prosperous future, since upon graduation (or expiration of the "certificate"), employment is relatively guaranteed. Although the fee increase may prevent students who simply cannot afford to pay the tuition from attending, there are always other schools with lower fees one could attend. If this stance seems dismissive, keep in mind that if potential students want to reap the prestigious benefits of a program like Ivey, they must be willing to pay for it.

However, the proposed hike is not just about paying for Western's increasingly reputed name, but about meeting averages. For example, Western's 12 per cent recommended fee increase for its dentistry program brings it to about the same level as the University of Toronto's, the only other university in the province with such a school.

On top of that, would students heading for a professional program be satisfied with a degree in medicine, law, business or dentistry knowing that it is not the calibre of what it could or should be? Would students be satisfied having gained an HBA knowing that Ivey's rank has slipped from 50 to 250 worldwide? When does the pedigree become more important then the diploma?

Professional programs are increasingly competing on a global scale to the point where being the best in the Great White North is no longer acceptable when compared to the Great Wide World. Supply and demand will manage the market for these types of degrees, and the Canadian system has desperately been trying to play quality catch-up since deregulation occurred three years ago.

And it is not as if the revenue generated from the tuition hike goes to fund various deans' hot tub parties. Generally, most of the additional tuition revenue will go right back into the programs. Additionally, 30 per cent would be set aside for financial aid to support students of those programs. Students already in the programs facing potential tuition hikes may not have the same rate of increase as those entering their first-year, but they may face problems in trying to accommodate the additional expense after already budgeting their educations.

Still, students should know by now that planning on stable tuition fees for the course of their university careers is like dreaming, and this proposed hike is a bucket of cold water to wake them up.

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