Be careful what you wish for

Premier Ralph Klein has said a number of times this week that students will not face the so-called double-bump tuition increase next year. Although he (sort-of) promised the government would step in if necessary, Klein called on the institutions themselves to come up with revenue shortfalls. Pure genius, Klein. Calling on universities and colleges to foot the bill is a powerful reminder of the creative market economy that makes Alberta so great.

The options are almost endless if University of Calgary administration would just be bold and discard things like academic plans and quality standards. Last year’s tuition relief cost the government approximately $8 million to cover U of C students, so this year administration only has to raise a meagre $16 million to cover the double-bump. Chump-change for Canada’s 14th best medical/doctoral university.

The Fine Arts Department alone costs $8,712,000 to exist each year. You’d think Fine Arts would be so used to underfunding by now they wouldn’t even notice if their entire budget disappeared. That’s over half the money right there.

The other half could easily come from the Schulich School of Engineering–it cost $17,722,000 last year to pay professors’ salaries. Why not ask half of them to donate their time for a year. It would save students from paying. Come on, guys… Seymour Schulich would do it.

If no one goes for that then class sizes all over the U of C could easily be increased. Surely students wouldn’t mind squeezing in a little closer to save a few hundred bucks. Besides, it would only have to be for the first few lectures. Since most profs post the lecture notes online and test exclusively multiple-choice, nobody actually needs to show up for class. You can easily book 600 students into a lecture hall built for 150. It can’t cost that much to print a few more degrees at the end of it all.

It doesn’t have to come from cuts, either. Maybe more creative solutions could be implemented. You’d think all the entrepreneurs in Haskayne could come up with some money-making ideas. The Internet, for example, is a virtual profit machine. Why not throw a few cheap webcams in the Kinesiology changerooms. The IT department can host the streaming video and we can easily charge $10.99 a month for voyeur access to our own campus co-eds. We could call the site something like Of course both the men’s and women’s rooms would have to be filmed. The U of C doesn’t want to be known as a sexist institution.

Better yet, we could fire all tenured professors! This one should be a no-brainer. The U of C has been setting up the framework to eliminate tenured profs in favour of cheaper sessional instructors for years. Sessionals are already growing at a rate three times higher than regular faculty. Let’s stop pussy-footing around and just do it. Sessionals don’t need benefits or annoying job-security. Plus–the best part–you can always get rid of them if somebody cheaper comes along. Just like Wal-Mart.

Whoa. Wait a second, why are we paying for qualified people in the first place? Of course! We could solve Calgary’s homeless problem and fix all of the U of C’s woes with a single move. Why not get the homeless to teach classes here? They have a wealth of experience from the University of Life and students can get all the real info for their courses from the textbook anyway. We could feed those hobos yesterday’s TimBits from Mac Hall and we’d never have to pay for a tuition increase again.

Then again, maybe the best solution would be for Ralph to put his money where his smirking mouth is and not ask cash-strapped institutions to find dollars they simply don’t have.

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