Where are fees going?
Waiting in a long line to pay a fee for a
simple piece of paper is stupid.
But forking over extra cash is exactly what is happening with
increasing frequency across the university, and is mirrored
at campuses across the province.
Administrators point to budget constraints as the reason for
relying on ancillary and user fees to cover their costs, and
their difficult fiscal situation — and that of students — will
only get worse if the provincial government continues to under-fund
The university’s position that user fees are essential
to providing important services to students is on shaky ground.
Fees can be eliminated if the university puts forth an honest
and concerted effort to get the government to fund ancillary
costs. Instead, they believe it much easier to put in place
a fee to cover what they should be doing anyway.
The university is able to levy these fees on students because
they can. They are probably making huge sums of money from
user fees, though the actual amount remains hidden.
Western’s policy of comparing their fees to other universities
defies logic and can only serve to take more money away from
students. If another university charges more for an identical
service, what is stopping Western from matching the higher
fee in order to harmonize their rates? This practice will only
drive up fees in a vicious cycle, tantamount to university
This must be stopped.
The feedback process for determining what level of service
students demand is also woefully inadequate. Decision-makers
say they are in regular contact with the University Students’ Council,
front-line employees and anyone else they deem helpful, though
what they actually take into consideration is dubious.
It remains a mystery what actually happens with the fees we
pay. Does the university allocate fee revenues wherever they
want or is it exclusively used to cover the cost of providing
the service. We hope it is on a purely cost-recovery basis
with not a single extra cent being shifted elsewhere.
The fact that there is no formal review process for individual
fees is insulting. Saying that everything is “considered” during
the budget process is akin to the university plugging its ears
and turning its head. With the Board of Governors rubber stamping
all these seemingly innocent fees, students should be concerned
that the situation will not be getting better. Expect next
year to usher in a new fee on, say, meeting with your professor.
Next time you pay a fee on campus, demand to know why it costs
as much as it does. When the university administration starts
getting overwhelmed with complaints, then maybe they will start