Copyright © 2020 Federation of Students, University of Waterloo operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
WUSA Advocacy clear in University Board of Governors agenda
Most students might not give much thought to the University’s Board of Governors, but beyond their role in approving spending, they're also responsible for determining how the university generates money. We know students don’t want to spend more than they have to on their education and they want decisions made by the university to be fair and transparent. At WUSA, we've been hard at work to make that happen.
On the agenda for the upcoming Board of Governors, fees for the coming year are being approved. Among them is the annual setting of the co-op fee. In the past, changes to this fee have been communicated poorly, making it seem like students were not involved in the fee-setting process. We have since worked with Co-op to revisit both their fee setting process, and how they communicate the co-op fee to current and prospective students. Now, your WUSA Experiential and Co-op Affairs Commissioner and Vice President, Education are involved earlier in the fee setting process. WUSA has advocated for a move toward consistent increases, rather than the large sporadic ones we've seen. We've also worked to ensure revenue increases and projects improve the quality of co-op for students, like the recent improvements to no-ranks, the introduction of Rate My Workterm, allowing students to petition to get out of interviews when they feel overwhelmed, and so much more. This year, the Co-op fee is projected to increase by 0.7% ($5), pending approval by the Board of Governors.
Also on the agenda is tuition for the coming year. While domestic tuition is frozen, international tuition is set to increase. In recent years past, WUSA advocacy led to the university implementing a guideline that tuition for incoming first years should generally increase no more than 15% each year, and for upper years, no more than five percent.
When this was recently implemented, it became apparent to some Math student Councilors that there was a problem. Tuition is set based on program level (e.g. 3A) and was raised every three terms, but it takes more than three terms for international co-op students to progress from 2A to 3A. This means that sometimes, they were hit with a 15% increase instead of a 5% increase. This was an obvious implementation issue, and WUSA made it clear to the university that we expected it to be improved. The university has taken action and is proposing a fix to the Board of Governors at this meeting. This move would save new international co-op students anywhere from $5000 to $8000 in unexpected tuition by graduation, with a womping $6.5 million dollars a year saved collectively.
We’d like to thank the university for listening to student concerns and solving the issue within seven months of being informed. If they didn’t solve it by this Board of Governors meeting, a new proposal could not have been brought until next February. As your WUSA Executive, we are proud to put your student fees, like your University Advocacy Fee into action, to help speak to the university about the decisions that matter to students. When it comes to things like quality of co-op and predictable tuition setting, we don’t mess around. Though we might not always have the power to make the decisions ourselves, we make sure we're always advocating to those who do.