One meeting left in consultation

Tuition consultation is 75 per cent over. The Students’ Union and Administration met Oct. 10 and 14 to discuss several items.

SU President Jayna Gilchrist asked how much money the university would require from the provincial government to not increase tuition. University Vice-President Finance and Services Mike McAdam felt it was not financially responsible to plan for anything other than a maximum increase.

"We can’t, even with grants and tuition, keep with inflation," explained Associate VP Student Affairs Dr. Peggy Patterson.

The SU disagreed.

"This is coming from perspective of operating deficit," said SU Operations and Finance Commissioner Jarrod Fuhr. "They see tuition as a source of funding which I don’t think accurately represents what students think."

The SU and Administration are also working on student loans.

"Two components are living costs and parental contributions," said Dr. Patterson. "We’re focusing our energy on increasing living allowance."

McAdam also tossed out the idea of removing the ability of students to pay tuition through credit cards. Fees for VISA and MasterCard, based on the percentage of transactions, are a $1 million expense in the budget. According to Dr. Patterson the issue will be explored further, but she thinks it’s troubling if credit cards are a source of funding.

"A million dollars for service charge, you could hire more profs," said SU External Commissioner Sean Hartley. "I don’t think getting rid of it would fly."

The SU also asked how investments made into graduate studies and research will trickle down to undergraduates. Fuhr is doubtful.

"I’m not comfortable," said Fuhr. "To benefit undergraduates, spend on undergraduates. The trickle-down effect I don’t find a convincing argument."

However, Dr. Patterson believes the connection is indirect and many people are participating.

"An increasing number of people are taking part in research-based classes," said Dr. Patterson giving examples of how students benefit. "There are smaller classes in science and writing courses. Undergraduates, where the professor researches, benefit from quality of instruction."

The last meeting will take place Oct. 31 where Administration will present the recommended tuition increase.

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