Students in residence will soon get some financial relief from hidden fees.
Of the total revenue gained from residence fees every year, 5.5 per cent goes to the University of Calgary administration, amounting to approximately $580,000 a year in addition to the fees already paid by residence students for utilities, insurance, property taxes, campus support services and mandatory allocations to reserve and capital funds.
Student leaders worry that because of the existence of the levy and the rising costs of residence due to renovations, there are fewer and fewer affordable student housing options.
“A lot of other universities don’t take revenue in from residence fees,” said Residence Students’ Association vice-president apartments Julie Bogle. “Universities shouldn’t use residence as a money-maker. Rez is unaffordable as it is.”
Bogle proposed the extra money could be used towards a much needed facility upgrade for older residence buildings.
“[Current renovation plans] are focusing mostly on the aesthetic aspects of the buildings,” explained Bogle. “That money could be used to bring all the low-income buildings up to par with issues like the plumbing.”
According to the minutes from a Residence Services advisory council meeting in March 2006, the U of C is one of the seven out of 16 post-secondary schools in Canada that allocates a portion of residence fees to institutional operating costs. The only Canadian institutions that assign more residence revenue towards university administration than the U of C are the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge, at 8.5 per cent and 7.0 per cent, respectively.
The university is not required to explain where the money is going, as the residence buildings are not just renting the property, but are affiliated with the school.
“All ancillary services at the university are assessed an overhead fee,” said U of C vice-president finance and services Mike McAdam. “It’s a general levy that is used for maintenance.”
Residence Services made a pitch to administration in January to remove the levy, freeing up some much-needed funds for students. McAdam explained that control of residence will move from being under the jurisdiction of Ancillary Services to Student Academic Services, making the levy unjustified.
“The primary purpose of removing the levy is to improve the quality of the student experience,” said McAdam.
The levy is being removed over a four-year period and should be completely eliminated by 2008.