All Posts Tagged With: "fees"
Costs of convocation should be factored in from the start
A post-secondary education may be the ticket to higher earning potential, but not before your institution bleeds you dry.
After you finished your last assignment, you feel free as you did the first time you coasted down a hill on your bike after getting your training wheels off. Then you apply for convocation and realize that, unless you’ve got over $100 just kickin’ it in the bank, you won’t be crossing any stage.
With the amount of student fees lumped together and tossed at us every September, you’d think the cost of convocation would be covered. Even if someone doesn’t want to cross the stage and rent regalia, my university—and most in Canada—charge students a fee to graduate.
I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised. Distance education students still have to pay gym membership fees. Health insurance is compulsory, too, unless you opt out, and even then you pay upfront and get a refund. What makes convocation any different?
What students are talking about today (April 3rd)
1. The HBO series Game of Thrones was downloaded illegally more than one million times within 24 hours of its premiere, according to TorrentFreak. That smashed the previous record, which Heroes set in 2008 with 144,663 peer-to-peer downloaders. HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Entertainment Weekly that, while they’re against piracy, “it is a compliment of sorts.” This will, however, worry cable TV providers. A new report says 250,000 Canadians have recently ditched cable.
2. A Mount Saint Vincent University billboard encouraging people to honour the women in their lives shows three smiling men in suits but, surprisingly, no women. The poorly-planned advertisement was put up to promote the Women’s Wall of Honour project, a tribute that will be erected on campus, reports Halifax’s Chronicle-Herald.
3. A Facebook group at the University of Guelph with more than 100 members is pressuring the campus’ Central Students’ Association to honour the will of the 73.5 per cent of student voters who voted to leave the Canadian Federation of Students a few years back. Instead of doing what students mandated, the CSA plans to join the CFS in suing the university for not collecting CFS fees. “By suing the University, the money will ultimately be coming out of students’ pockets,” writes Samuel Mosonyi at TheCannon.ca. “The CSA has endorsed the Freeze the Fees Campaign, which calls on the Board of Governors to reduce tuition fees. Why would you sue students and make us pay even higher fees?” It’s a good question. The previous lawsuit cost hundreds of thousands, this one would cost money too, and the fees would add up to hundreds of thousands. Meanwhile, Carleton University students are debating whether to stick with or dump the CFS.
4. A University of British Columbia student who went through U.S. customs in Quebec carrying eight condoms and sexy lingerie says she was interrogated for eight hours, accused of being a sex worker and warned she could be banned from the U.S. for five years, reports Metro News. Later in that same month, she went through U.S. customs again on the way to Aruba and admitted an affair with a married man. On her way back, she was denied entry and was told needs a visa to enter.
5. “We’ve paid the tens of thousands of dollars for our tuition. We’ve paid hundreds in ancillary fees,” writes Cameron Michael Smith in Western’s The Gazette. “Now, finally, the end of the money pit is in sight. Graduation represents a freedom from the financial burden that university represents—but not before they have one last good grope of our wallets.” He’s not happy about paying $60 for “academic regalia,” and $10.95 for a grad cap. “Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t impose a penalty fee just for completing your degree,” he adds. Actually, they do charge graduation fees at some schools. At the University of Guelph it’s $35.35 or $95.35 if you apply late. Jerks!
Ottawa student lost bid to have student fee returned
I don’t like my student union’s Education is a Right campaign and I don’t go to social events on campus like the Winter Challenge. I don’t need the transit pass and don’t generally associate myself with the politics of my student union at the University of Ottawa, where I study part-time. So why should I have to pay to be a member?
Edward Inch didn’t think he should have to pay and so he tried suing the Student Federation at the University of Ottawa (SFUO) in small claims court for the $92.60 they charged him one semester after he opted out of the union in 2012.
In a court decision yesterday, deputy judge Lyon Gilbert decided Inch must pay up anyway. “As a student, Mr. Inch is bound to the terms and conditions of enrollment,” Gilbert said, according to The Fulcrum student newspaper.
Can we really blame hunger and depression on tuition?
What does a slight rise in antidepressant use at the University of Ottawa have in common with a jump in students using the campus food bank?
The answer is rising tuition, say student activists.
“I think financial stress is a big reason for students relying on antidepressants a little bit more over the last few years,” Ann-Marie Roy, vice-president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, told CBC last week when asked about growing antidepressant prescriptions on campus.
“We don’t think that people should have to choose between paying tuition fees and eating,” Chris Hynes, director of the SFUO food bank, told CBC a few days later when asked to explain a 10-fold increase in campus food bank customers since 2007.
Tuition is indeed rising in Ontario. Undergraduates here pay the highest average fees in Canada at $7,180 and growing five per cent annually. But do fees really explain depression and hunger?
The real problem is rising tuition, say student leaders
This is a response to Liam Ledgerwood’s argument against student union fees, which appeared in The Arthur at Trent University. What do you think about student fees? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter @maconcampus, or on Facebook.
We are sorry to hear that levy fees are troubling you and that you feel ripped off. Further, it is extremely troubling to hear of such an abuse of student monies at York—that is wrong. However, your piece misses some of the most amazing work these levies accomplish. Here is a quick, incomplete list of what they support:
—two food banks, feeding both hungry students and those less fortunate in the Peterborough community
—a free market to exchange goods
—a pan-campus and Peterborough-wide anti-rape campaign
—a transit system used by some 6,000 people daily
—a health benefits plan, which students can remove themselves from, used by 3,000 students
—employment for more than 100 students offering invaluable job experience (for example: Arthur staff writer)
—political and charitable goals including raising money for Haiti after their last earthquake, talking about mental health on campus, and helping those who cannot afford the full cost of childcare.
If we wanted these groups, we’d fund them voluntarily.
Liam Ledgerwood’s piece for The Arthur at Trent University generated more than a couple letters to the editor. After reading his argument below, check out one of those responses, written by two student politicians who support the fees. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter @maconcampus or on Facebook.
When I was an eager and green first year at Trent University, I remember my father telling me a story about one of his university friends back in the 80s. Like Trent, York University offered any student group “free” money to help finance its activities. Well, my father’s friend started a group, received a few hundred dollars, went and bought “prizes” (read: stuff he wanted) and held a “fundraiser” auction that went unadvertised. When no one showed up, guess who kept the prizes?
I laughed at the time, but I recently read the list of levies that each student at Trent pays to support various organizations, clubs, charities and special interest groups on campus. Every single one of us pays more than $180 per year to support more than 30 groups that most of us have a) no participation in b) receive no benefit from or c) have never even heard of.
Each year, $18.79 is charged to us to pay for Trent Radio (does anyone know the frequency?), $18.87 for Trent Annual (despite my never even seeing a Trent Yearbook through three years here), $12.50 for the politically ideological Ontario Public Interest Research Group, and the list goes on. Sure, some of these levies are “refundable,” but the total of all available refunds is only $51, and we have to go to groups individually to get our own money back. There’s no “opt out” button.
Tuition protest leads to violence, vandalism
Banks, shops, cars and a police station had their windows shattered in Montreal Wednesday night following a protest against university tuition hikes in Quebec. Police say that 85 people were arrested and that three police officers suffered injuries.
The scene was chaotic. Students lobbed paint balls. Police used pepper-spray.
Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, head of the militant Quebec student group C.L.A.S.S.E., had warned earlier in the day that Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp’s refusal to meet with him was equivalent to “pouring oil on the fire,” reports Le Soleil.
Beauchamp had been willing to meet two other student groups, but refuses to speak with C.L.A.S.S.E. because they continue to advertise violent demonstrations online. C.L.A.S.S.E. responded by saying that their website is not centrally controlled.
Many student associations in Quebec have opted to boycott classes at various points over the past 73 days to protest the government’s planned tuition fee increase of $1,625 over five years.
Presidents and student groups complain
University presidents and student groups in Nova Scotia are angry about a new three-year funding agreement that includes a three per cent funding cut and a three per cent tuition rise, which is roughly equivalent to annual inflation.
After a four per cent cut last year, plus inflation, there is now a $75-million hole in budgets system-wide, John Harker, chairman of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and president of Cape Breton University told the Chronicle Herald.
The Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students called the agreement “disappointing.” In a release, chair Maxime Audet said this: “tuition fee increases coupled with reductions in government funding means students in Nova Scotia will be paying more and getting less.”
Students react swiftly with copycat site
Quebec’s Liberal government has launched a new website to convince students of the fairness of the annual $325 tuition fee increase that will bring tuition to $3,793 in 2016-17.
Student groups cried foul last week when they learned that Quebec had budgeted $50,000 for Internet advertising, including some that attempts to re-route Internet users to the governments’ site whenever they search the names of activist organizations on Google, reported La Presse.
Tens of thousands of students protested the Charest governments’ increase last week, despite the fact that Quebec will continue to have some of the lowest fees in North America even after the rise.
Tuition fees rising $325 per year
Unlike in London, U.K., where a planned protest fizzled earlier this week, Quebec students skipped classes en masse Thursday to demonstrate against tuition fee hikes. Some estimate tens of thousands rallied province-wide.* Tens of thousands marched in Montreal alone. The protests were peaceful.
The students are opposed to tuition fee hikes of $325 per year for five years, which will lead to tuition bills of $3,793 by 2017. Quebec students currently pay $2,415—less than half the average in Canada, which is $5,138. Still, they worry about the debt that higher tuition fees will bring.
But Premier Jean Charest is unlikely to back down. His decision in March to raise tuition is supported by university administrators, as they will get $850 million more collectively to operate schools each year after 2017, according to CTV News. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities argues that quality is at risk without more money injected the system. Considering that Quebec’s gross provincial debt was $173-billion at budget time in March, the government is unable to provide more cash. As in most provinces, the majority of increases in revenue will be eaten up by growing health care costs.
*It was reported by many news agencies, including us, that 200,000 students protested. In fact, the Quebec Federation of University Students reports that the figure was closer to 20,000. We regret the error.
Tuition rally fizzles
Despite having 4,000 police ready in case the protest got out of hand, Scotland Yard says that only about 2,500 protesters showed up for a mass rally against high tuition fees in London, U.K. Organizers, on the other hand, told Sky News that 10,000 showed up, though they hoped more would have joined. After all, more than 50,000 marched with the same demands in the summer, during which protesters smashed the windows of the Conservative party’s headquarters.
At today’s protest, students carried placards denouncing the government’s policy that allowed tuition fees to rise to $14,500 at many schools. Some showed their middle finger as they passed the London Stock Exchange. Twenty were arrested by 4 p.m. local time, police told The Telegraph.
Police had warned on Monday that they would use rubber bullets and batons if necessary to quell violent protesters. Twitter users blamed police intimidation for the lower-than-expected turnout.
News comes as study reveals rapidly growing tuition rates
As some American students continued their Occupy protests on Wednesday, President Barack Obama was being cheered by other students in Colorado where he announced he will speed up his initiatives to help students overcome debt.
“We should be doing everything we can to put college education within reach for every American,” the President said in what CNN describes as a “campaign-style event.”
Obama announced that a program to limit the repayment of federal student loan debt to 10 per cent of discretionary income will start next year, instead of the year after. And he said that students will be able to consolidate public and private loans to save on interest charges.
Most student unions aren’t transparent about your cash
Details on student fees—that ever-growing list of mandatory payments tacked onto tuition bills, mainly by student unions—isn’t easy to find.
Students are often outraged when they do find out—often in their fourth year—that they’ve paid dozens of fees to causes they don’t support.
That’s why students at the University of Alberta recently offered a presentation called “Students’ Union Fees Used to Spread Hate,” during which the speakers argued that many students are unwittingly paying mandatory fees that go to the Alberta Public Interest Research Group, which supports the always-controversial—they say hateful—Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
Previous station shut down by CRTC
On Ryerson University’s Toronto campus Tuesday, newspaper boxes and streetlight polls were been plastered with advertisements urging students to vote for a new student-owned radio station in a referendum next week. The old campus station, CKLN-FM, was famously shut down in a rare move by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commision in January. “York University has one,” reads one poster created by supporters of a new station.
But will that be enough to convince students? The cost, a mandatory $10.35 charged annually to each and every student, has caused an opposition group to organize against the proposal. The vote will happen between Oct. 24 and 26. Mark Single, a fourth-year engineering student, started the No to Ryerson Radio Committee: “Supporters see this as another way to grab money from students’ pockets who don’t have money in the first place,” he told The Eyeopener.
More than 70 universities are charging new maximum
Only 29 per cent of British adults believe that a university education is worth £9,000 ( $14,431) a year, while 56 per cent believe that it isn’t worth that much and fifteen per cent are unsure, according to a new poll by YouGov that was reported on by Times Higher Education.
The news comes as British students enter a school year in which more than 70 universities are charging the new maximum tuition rate of £9,000 ($14,431) a year. When the cap was raised from £3,350 ($5,376) earlier this year, Britain’s Business Secratary had predicted that schools would only choose to charge that amount “in exceptional circumstances.” That proved to be untrue.
Brits are also divided when asked how graduates will fare in the long term, with 42 per cent agreeing that they “will end up worse off in the long term, as their increased earnings will be outweighed by the cost of going to university.” Forty per cent disagree and 18 per cent are unsure.
Should students pay for amenities they don’t use?
The University of New Brunswick student union is fighting the administration on behalf of students who don’t want to pay big fees for an expensive new facility that they might not use. This week, the board of governors approved a $150-per-year fee that will be imposed on all students to help pay for the Richard J. Currie Centre, a fancy new fitness facility that will open by September. If the fee is renewed each year, that would cost students $600 over four years. Joey O’Kane, VP External for the Student Union told CBC News that the money should be collected from user fees instead. The university’s president Eddy Campbell disagreed and added that the size of the fees was a past student union administration’s choice. He says that they demanded a $40-million facility when the administration had proposed a more modest $25-million building. The final tally is expected to be $62-million.
And is it too much? Or not enough?
Every student union is a little different, but they all have one thing in common: they don’t work for free. Student unions often have multi-million dollar budgets, and you can bet the people in charge are getting a good chunk of your money.
But just how much? I did a little digging, and pulled the numbers from every student union in Ontario that’s a member of the Canadian Federation of Students – easily accessible list of websites, if you’re wondering why. Or at least I tried to. Only 12 CFS-O schools have online budgets (that I could find), while 25 don’t.
No matter. I pulled the numbers as best I could. Salaries for each executive were sometimes lumped together, sometimes seperated. Benefits were often unclear and tied in with other expenses. Executives wages were not always seperated from other full time employees. Some of these budgets are two or three years old. So if anybody has more recent or accurate numbers, I would love to see them. But overall, this gives us a little bit of perspective.
The average executive receives about $16,757 in remuneration ($19,705 for undergrads, $10,860 for grad students.) The average executive slate is paid about 13 per cent of the student union budget (15 per cent for undergrads, nine per cent for grad students.)
Here’s the list, in order of average executive financial remuneration (includes salary, benefits, honorariums, etc.)
1. Carleton University – $36,599
2. University of Guelph Central Student Association – $30,335
3. University of Windsor Students’ Alliance – $27,682
4. University of Toronto Students’ Union – $26,171*
5. University of Ottawa Graduate Students’ Association – $16,110
6. Trent Central Student Association – $13,075
7. Scarborough Campus Students’ Union – $12,703*
8. University of Western Ontario Society of Graduate Students – $11,419
9. Queen’s University Society of Graduate and Professional Students – $8,480
10. University of Toronto at Mississauga Students’ Union – $7,574
11. University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union – $7,432
12. Glendon College Students’ Union – $3,500
* UTSU and SCSU both include their executive salaries with those of directors, co-ordinators, and other important staff; these numbers are the average of the pay of all these positions
So what do you think – do student leaders get paid enough? Or do they get paid too much? I’d love to hear your comments, and if anybody has any information about student unions that I haven’t covered I’d love to share it with the readers.