Pension deficit, tuition increases remain parts of University budget
The Board of Governors passed McMaster’s 2012/13 Consolidated Budget last month, and the major points of concern cited by its authors remain largely unchanged from the previous few years.
Following the economic downturn of 2008, the University’s pension investments suffered, moving it to take money from its operating budget to support pension commitments. McMaster has been receiving solvency relief through programs by the Ontario government.
The budget also stipulated that the University “has limited fee-setting ability,” but that “McMaster’s policy is to maximize tuition fees within [provincial] regulations.” It is counting on a three per cent increase for domestic students and a six per cent increase for international students in both 2013/14 and 2014/15.
A group of Ontario students, including a few from McMaster, spent June 22 occupying the office of Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, to protest tuition fees.
The occupation was an initiative of Ontario’s chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students, a lobbying group to which the McMaster Students Union does not belong. About 20 students had gathered inside Murray’s office and another 20 were outside, handing out information to passers-by.
The students were there to express concerns over tuition increases outlined in the recent Ontario budget. The occupation was also a show of solidarity with Quebec students, who have been taking to the streets in the thousands over the last number of months to oppose a proposed five-year increase to tuition caps in the province.
Access Copyright deal reached
Despite concerns expressed by student representatives, McMaster University signed a deal with Access Copyright that will increase a per-student fee from $3.38 to $26. Along with the deal, Access Copyright removed the $0.10 per-page fee on courseware it charged to universities, though it is unclear if this will mean a decrease in courseware prices charged by the University.
Other universities have taken different directions, either choosing not to download the cost of the fee onto students or working around Access Copyright to establish cheaper copyright deals directly with publishers.
During negotiations, the University published a Q&A document “to provide the students, staff and faculty with responses to some concerns raised to date.” University of Toronto law professor Ariel Katz published a detailed critique of the document, pointing out flaws in both the facts presented in the Q&A and the arguments made.
The Q&A document has since been removed from McMaster Daily News.
Carleton, Guelph, Memorial, Queen’s and Trent are the latest in a sizeable group of universities that have turned down an Access Copyright deal.