Tuition consultation has almost come and gone and University of Calgary student representatives are disappointed with both the process and the outcome.
"I would say the atmosphere surrounding tuition consultation has been fairly friendly," said Students' Union President Barb Wright. "But I would have to say it hasn't exactly been effective."
Each year, three representatives of the Students' Legislative Council engage in dialogue with university administrators to discuss the amount of the tuition increase for the following year. The 2001 SU tuition consultation committee consists of Wright, Vice-President External Oliver Bladek and Operations and Finance commissioner Robbie White.
"I've been very pleased with this year's tuition consultation," said U of C VP Finance and Services Dr. Keith Winter. "It was positive and informative for us and I hope it's been as informative for the SU."
SU representatives expressed disappointment that after what should have been the last meeting, Dr. Winter was unable to confirm a possible tuition increase figure to be recommended to the Planning and Finance Committee on Nov. 14.
"I don't feel like tuition has been much of a priority for Dr. Winter this year," said Wright. "He's focusing his energies on campus planning and with a lack of funding coming from the province to finish the campus plan, I don't see how that should be a larger priority than tuition."
Wright suggested the tuition increase would be comparable to the 3.65 per cent approved by the University of Alberta but stressed this number could not be confirmed.
"I can't give the answer to that," agreed Winter. "We didn't have a number to discuss at the meeting."
New to this year's consultation was the proposal of a student-directed increase. The concept was proposed by Dr. Winter and would allow the SU to determine how one per cent of the tuition increase would be used.
"Dr. Winter originally brought it up and suggested putting it towards the library," said White. "But he told us to think about where it would go."
At the Nov. 6 SLC meeting, it was suggested that the SU would not have the authority to disperse the funds at their discretion. The funds could be allocated to the library or to student bursaries, but the final use would be contingent on Winter's approval.
"The direction we got from council was that we weren't interested," said White. "We don't want any part in approving an increase."
Wright added that the possibility of using the funds for bursaries indicates the funds aren't needed by the university and could be eliminated from the increase altogether.
"That one per cent does not go to base operating, it goes to something else," said Wright. "That leads me to believe they don't need that million dollars unless they were going to be funding something out of the base operating budget. But tuition is always touted as being more base operating funding, if they know that a million dollars isn't going to go there, what do they need it for?"
"There aren't any specifics here," said Winter. "We've been exploring options as per the nature of the consultation process. I asked for suggestions and I offered some and asked for reactions, but we haven't concluded that any of these things are or are not going to happen."
The PFC will meet on Nov. 14 to determine the tuition increase that will be recommended to the Board of Governors. The BoG meeting will take place on Nov. 30. For more information, visit the SU tuition forum at www.su.ucalgary.ca