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Learning costs

Didn’t think a student card cost so much, did you?/ Michael Chmielewski
Didn’t think a student card cost so much, did you?/ Michael Chmielewski

You can’t learn more by paying more.

Author: Alicia Miller

So, tuition is going up yet again, and somehow I don’t feel as though the quality of my education is following suit. Since I started the U of R in the fall semester of 2009, my tuition has gone up from $420 per class to $575.25 per class. That is a $155.25 increase, or rather, 37 per cent, and that doesn’t include the rise in all of our other fees, such as “athletic fees,” “Student’s Union fees,” and those wastes of money called “textbooks.” Someone please explain to me this drastic rise in costs, why I’m paying it, and where all of this extra money is going, because it certainly isn’t into the level of education I’m receiving.

I have friends that attend universities all over the country in comparable programs and all of them seem to be receiving similar, if not better, educations than I am at a lower cost. Now, I understand how inflation works, but 37 per cent seems a tad high considering minimum wage in 2009 was $9.25 and is currently only $10. That’s a 7 per cent increase in bare minimum wages, yet somehow my tuition has inflated over 5 times that. Something isn’t right, especially as a working student who pays for their own way through school with most available jobs for my demographic being minimum wage, customer service-oriented positions. Student loans aren’t exactly desirable and barely cover the costs of anything, and somehow we, as students, must rely on them more and more if we are to make it through school in a reasonable amount of time.

Now, as for the quality of my education, I’m in the Faculty of Arts. I can’t even count the amount of times funding to my faculty has been cut, departments merged and degree programs dropped due to a whole variety of circumstances, none of which involved improving what I’m learning and how I am to learn it. A great deal of my classes involve a prof simply making PowerPoint slides of the textbook I am forced to pay far too much for, and many of these lectures are posted online, so the point of even showing up for class is almost futile. My tests are comprised of regurgitating slides and textbook definitions onto pieces of paper and have rarely ever involved me having to think critically or give my own well-formulated opinion on the subject matter at hand. I thought the point of university was to educate me into thinking critically, not remembering some bolded words and repeating them exactly as I’ve read them. Granted, a fair few of my profs have transcended this way of testing my knowledge and do in fact give tests worthy of a university level degree, but many have not, and I sure as heck shouldn’t be paying a gargantuan amount to be taught by an overpriced and bound stack of papers. I can do that for free and on my own time.

Tuition is on trend to rise 13 per cent over the next 4 years. The U of R isn’t even considered a prestigious university and yet we’re paying some of the highest tuition rates in the country; I have no idea how or why. All I know is that it’s simply garbage and the only reason I put up with it is because if I wanted to transfer, I’d have to start almost at the beginning, since most U of R credits aren’t transferable to most other universities. We, the students, the paying majority, should not have to put up with this. We need to take a page from Quebec’s books and stand up against this kind of financial outrage, otherwise we will continue to suffer insurmountable student debt with little to show for it.

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