Students at the University of Manitoba are scratching their heads as some of their own have begun an uphill battle to see their tuition raised by 112 per cent. It's not often Canadian students lobby to pay more, but the I.H. Asper School of Business wants to ignore the Manitoba govern- ment's tuition freeze.
At the front of Business Dean Jerry Gray's concerns was the department's growing inability to retain qualified and experienced professors. Last year, they lost a marketing professor who left for the University of British Columbia for double his salary. This appears to be a trend within the department, as teachers leave the U of M once they acquire enough experience to go elsewhere for better pay.
The proposed hike would increase tuition from $134 to $284 per credit hour and would be the largest increase in Manitoba's history. The estimated $3.4 million in added revenue would be used to hire 20 new staff and bolster the salaries of existing faculty. The money would also go towards scholarships and bursaries, and would raise annual funding for student groups and activities.
U of M Students' Union President Shawn Alwis has stiff criticism for the proposal.
"Administration will likely support this increase and why wouldn't they?" said Alwis. "It puts [all] of the financial burden for administering salaries on the backs of students and not in administration budgets where it belongs."
Despite this, the students of the I.H. Asper School of Business are willing to pay. Mike Davy, a marketing and entrepreneurship major and Commerce Student Association President described his last three years in the faculty as the time of his life. He loves the department, and is even planning on sticking around for a fifth year. But Davy feels he shares many students' concerns that the current tuition freeze imposed by the NDP government is hurting the school's reputation.
"It's choking up the potential of the school, really," he explained. "We've got a solid, good program. But if we're not pro-active and do something, we're going to slip behind the ball."
Davy also points out that when their current tuition is broken down, most of it goes to administration. All of the added tuition, however, would go directly to the faculty. Davy and his fellow business students will vote in a referendum Jan. 26-27, which he is sure will show an overwhelming support for the tuition increase.
Alwis suggested the increase would only apply to future students, so the students actually voting for the hike would not be affected.
"Thankfully, the proposal fails every criteria set by government to increase tuition," said Alwis. "I trust the Minister of Advanced Education will turn this down.
"A freeze is a freeze. Period."