Paying more to get more?

Students and faculty from Applied Science and Commerce weigh in on their deregulated programs

Commerce Director Peter Kissick said deregulated tuition didn’t pay for Goodes Hall, pictured above, but it has created an enhanced learning environment.
Commerce Director Peter Kissick said deregulated tuition didn’t pay for Goodes Hall, pictured above, but it has created an enhanced learning environment.
EngSoc’s submission to the Rae Review last year said 30per cent of Applied Science tuition goes to increasing student aid.
EngSoc’s submission to the Rae Review last year said 30per cent of Applied Science tuition goes to increasing student aid.

As a second-year student at the Queen’s School of Business, Kimberly Mosher has watched her tuition almost double in two years.

According to the University’s Guide to Registration and Fees 2005/06, Mosher paid a total of $10, 441.38 this year, after paying $5,470.48 as a first-year student.

“I guess it’s kind of like a trade-off,” Mosher said. “One way to look at it is that we’re gaining something more because it’s more of a specialized program.” Undergraduate fees in Commerce and Applied Science have been deregulated at Queen’s since 1998, when then-Premier Mike Harris allowed Ontario’s professional programs—such as Law, Medicine, Applied Science and Business—to set their own tuition costs. Statistics Canada reported last month that tuition for professional programs in Ontario’s universities soared during the late 1990s.

When Dalton McGuinty became premier in 2003, he followed through on an election promise to place a two-year freeze on tuition. Last month, McGuinty announced the tuition freeze would end after this academic year.

Before the tuition freeze, the Ontario government regulated Arts and Science programs to a fee increase of no more than two per cent per year.

Although this decision likely means a tuition increase for all Ontario university students, the Journal wanted to find out how deregulated undergraduate programs have affected students thus far at Queen’s.

Sean Rozell, Sci ’08, said he sees his program as more practical than a program from the Faculty of Arts and Science because he can fall right into an industry job.

“I guess I don’t mind because we’re supposedly going to make more money in the long run so I have the impression it’ll be easier to pay the debt back after,” Rozell said.

Dean of Applied Science Tom Harris was unavailable for comment, but Paula Mosbrucker, EngSoc vice-president (academics), said faculties have to be transparent to their students when deciding on deregulated tuition fees.

She said the Faculty of Applied Science did this when it decided to raise tuition approximately seven percent every year from 1999 until McGuinty’s freeze.

According to the University’s Guide to Registration and Fees 2005/06, Applied Science students paid $7,624.12 in tuition this year.

Mosbrucker said deregulating a program’s fee doesn’t have to be a detrimental process. “Can it have a positive affect? I think so,” she said.

Mosbrucker said the manner in which fees were allocated to the faculty and to the University after government funding to universities was cut in the mid-1990s left the faculty no choice but to increase tuition. “[Increasing tuition] kept us from becoming part of a program that would not be able to progress,” she said.

EngSoc’s submission to the Rae Review last year said 30 per cent of Applied Science tuition goes to increasing financial aid for students. The report also said 95 per cent of Applied Science’s expenses come from paying professors’ salaries.

Sarah Young, Sci ’08, said her problem with deregulated programs comes when costs become so high, they’re seen as a deterrent to those entering the program.

“I know in Engineering that we’re lucky that although our program is deregulated, they haven’t been significantly increasing the costs,” Young said. “But it really is very expensive [when compared to Arts and Science tuition].” Mosbrucker said the Faculty of Applied Science is working hard to maintain their standards of “means-blind” acceptance—meaning that a student’s financial situation doesn’t prevent him or her from studying.

Since the faculty is mindful of a student’s financial situation, Mosbrucker said, fees in Applied Science seem like “a regulated-deregulated process.”

“It’s a necessary evil, to a certain degree,” she said. “[Tuition] becomes regulated in itself.”

Mosbrucker said deregulated tuition at the Faculty of Applied Science doesn’t have much to do with how Applied Science students view their degree in comparison with an Arts and Science degree.

“You know it’s a professional degree,” she said.

In the School of Business’s case, Commerce program Director Peter Kissick said increasing tuition has meant smaller class sizes, a more electronically sophisticated learning environment and additional learning commons.

“If our students are paying additional tuition, I would hope we’re putting our extra tuition to good use,” Kissick said.

He said deregulation of the Commerce program starts in second year, and first-year students effectively pay the same as a first-year student in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

First-year Commerce students pay almost $500 more than an Arts and Science student because they take an extra half-credit.

“The difference in the final three years relates to the number of courses students take—there are fewer in years three and four,” he said.

Like the Faculty of Applied Science, Kissick said some of the money from deregulated tuition in Commerce is allocated to the University.

“In a way it’s benefiting the University as a whole,” Kissick said. He said he didn’t have the exact figure that the School of Business allocates to the University.

Kissick said since the Commerce program is deregulated, there’s a higher level of expectation from undergraduate students.

“I think there’s an expectation they’ll receive good ‘customer service.’

“I think they’re looking for greater administrative services—like tech support and career counseling,” he said.

For Mosher, the Commerce program gives graduates a degree with direction.

“I like to think that I don’t look at it like a superior degree, but I guess you’re gaining a little bit more,” she said. “But I think it’s more what you do with your degree than what your degree does for you.”

AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Pat Welsh said there’s a specific end route for students in deregulated programs, while Arts and Science students generally study more to cultivate skills.

“These are undergraduate professional degrees. One of the main expectations is that there’s a job waiting for you,” he said.

Welsh said it’s challenging to balance the needs of all undergraduate faculties while ensuring accessibility for all students.

“You have to keep in mind that not exactly all members in deregulated programs are unhappy for getting a bit more for paying a bit more,” he said.

ComSoc President Krista Hapke said the society’s board of directors will discuss concerns about accessibility this year.

“We want to look at how much of an issue it actually is,” she said.

Although Garrett Healey, Comm ’08, doesn’t mind paying high tuition costs, he said his belief comes from his own bias, and said there are some people in his program where financial need is a cause for concern.

“I think it’s unfair all in all, but I don’t think much about it and there are other Commerce students who don’t think much about it either,” he said.

Healey said that when he graduates, he won’t view his degree any differently than any other undergraduate degree at Queen’s.

“I know Commerce students have a bit of a reputation [of feeling superior]—but I wouldn’t regret having paid more,” he said.

Mosher said the high tuition costs she pays now will benefit her in the long run.

“Technically we’ll be making that money back later,” she said.

But Welsh, who is an Arts and Science student, said there is a subculture that promotes the difference between the degrees.

“It’s part of a program’s spirit,” Welsh said. “It’s cultivating the cult of the elite. [In a deregulated program] you aren’t just getting a standard Arts and Science degree,” he said.

Welsh said having a central location for a deregulated program—the Faculty of Applied Science has Beamish-Munro Hall, which opened last year, and the School of Business has Goodes Hall, which opened in 2002—creates a sense of being separate and different.

“I think Arts and Science students view [Commerce and Applied Science students’] having their own buildings as a manifestation of deregulation, and perhaps getting special treatment,” Welsh said.

Kissick said the construction of Goodes Hall was not funded by revenue from deregulated tuition but from alumni donations, and Mosbrucker said the same thing about Beamish-Munro Hall. As a Commerce student, however, Healey said he feels secluded and part of a separate school.

“It feels like there’s Queen’s, and then there’s the Queen’s School of Business—that’s when you are in the building.” Healey said although he appreciates the newer facilities at Goodes Hall, it’s a relief to have an elective at one of the older buildings on campus.

“You get the appeal of tradition when you actually venture out to the campus,” he said.

Mosher said having most of her classes at Goodes Hall gives her program a sense of unity.

“You might see it as ‘we’re sectioned off,’ but I really enjoy the opportunity,” Mosher said. “It makes things logistically easier overall to have us in one spot than having us scattered.”

Kissick said it’s fair to say that business students are proud of the building.

“It’s a tremendous asset when it comes to recruiting students, since it allows a more sophisticated learning environment,” he said.

Rozell said Beamish-Munro Hall boosts a positive feeling towards the Faculty of Applied Science.

“It’s definitely a good building to have,” Rozell said. “The resources are useful ... it’s easier than trying to go to Stauffer and trying to get a group room.”

But Young said she hasn’t used the building much.

“I’ve been in the building twice—I’ve never really used it as a resource,” she said.

—With files from Megan Grittani-Livingston

Tuition Fees

Regulated: Arts and Science
$4,975.79 per year

Deregulated: Applied Science
$7,624.12 per year

Deregulated: Commerce*
Year one: $5,470.48
Year two: $10,441.38
Year three: $9,570.18
Year four: $8,688.98

*Years two through four are deregulated, and tuition amounts vary depending on the number of courses taken.

—Source: Guide to Registration and Fees 2005/06

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