Students get answers on market modifiers

Students in the Haskayne School of Business (HSB) paying an unpopular fee known as a market modifier now have answers about where their money is spent.

Students’ Union representatives have questioned the lack of transparency surrounding the business school’s market modifier since it was added to course fees in 2011. Of all monies collected from the fee, 10 per cent is slated for student bursaries and financial aid. Until now, business students didn’t know who nor how many students were receiving bursaries funded by the market modifier.

Every student admitted after fall 2011 paid the market modifier, costing undergraduate commerce students an extra $232 per course and $179 per course for masters of business administration students.

Students’ Union business representative Jasmine Chitroda and former business representative Krzysztof Iwanicki began probing administration about where their money was being spent last year. Chitroda, who is now serving her second term in the SU, said finding numbers on the bursaries was a matter of asking the right questions.

“We were really interested in the student aid and financial awards portion — that 10 per cent — just ensuring that these awards were being given out,” Chitroda said. “It was a little bit tricky to get the information. I guess the hardest part was finding the right person to talk to.”

Because the bursary portion of the market modifier is distributed by the Student Awards Office (SAO), the HSB does not have access to those numbers. Chitroda and Iwanicki went to the SAO manager of undergraduate awards Claudia Barrett for answers.

Barrett said that $160,000 was available in modifier funded bursaries last year. Awards valued at $1,000 each were given to students involved in HSB’s extra-curriculars. Only 45 students received the bursary last year, leaving $115,000 left over.

Chitroda and Iwanicki worked with the SAO on restructuring the bursary. Chitroda said the bursary should be accessible to every student who pays it.

“We wanted to take away some of the requirements which were hindering students from being able to get financial aid,” Chitroda said. “We’ve also been able to work with the financial aid office and get the amount increased to $3,500 per bursary.”

If there is not enough demand for the bursary and the full amount is not distributed, the remainder stays in the account for next year. Just over $380,000 will be available this year, meaning 108 students can receive the $3,500 bursary.

Barrett said that more money for the bursary will help the business students who need it most.

“We thought that was a reasonable value for the bursaries given that the average annual cost for tuition and fees for a Haskyane student is about $7,000,” Barrett said. “We wanted the bursary to make a significant impact.”

The administration and Haskayne split the remaining 90 per cent of the funds raised from the fee. The HSB spends their share on professor salaries, new hires and facility upgrades. Administration says their share covers costs unpaid by business students who take courses in other faculties. Information on where the administration spends the money are not available.

While the new bursary has not yet been approved by the HSB, Barrett expects it will be approved by next week.

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