Board of Governors - APPENDIX IV - October 29, 1998
The Campus and Community Affairs Committee held a public meeting on Monday evening, October 5, 1998. As previously announced, the focus of this meeting was on budgetary issues.
In advance of the meeting, members of the University and London community were informed, through advertisements and direct mailing, that they were invited to make recommendations, proposals or submissions to the Committee on any matter under the purview of the Board. Information was also posted on the Internet at http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/board/pubmtg.html.
The meeting was held in the Board Room, 330 Stevenson-Lawson Building, beginning at 5:00 p.m.. In addition to Committee members, all other members of the Board were invited to attend this public meeting. Committee members present were: Jim Etherington (Chair), Lin Whittaker (Vice-Chair), Ryon Bateman, Paul Davenport, Wally Gibson, Madeline Lennon, Greg Moran, Bill Peel, Michael Rubinoff, John Starkey, Jan Van Fleet, Tom Vine, and Alan Weedon. In addition to those making presentations to the Committee, there were approximately 30 persons in the audience, including members of the Press.
Three presentations were scheduled for the evening:
Tuition Fees for MD and DDS Programs and for Medical Residents
Presenters were Isabel Martin, a Director of the Medical Education Taskforce on Tuition and Accessibility (METTA), and Herbert Brill, External Vice-President Jr. of the Hippocratic Council of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Analysis of the Cost of Educating Medical Students at UWO
The presenter was Daniel Rabinovitch, a Director of the Medical Education Taskforce on Tuition and Accessibility (METTA)
University Matching Funds for Campus Barrier Free Accessibility Projects
The presenter was Peter Hill, Vice-President Campus Issues of the University Students' Council
Following each presentation, there was an opportunity for questions from the Committee and informal discussion. Once all presentations had been made, the Committee met in closed session to review what it had heard, to determine whether further information might be warranted, and to decide on the course of action to be taken, if any.
Below is a summary of each of the three presentations and conclusions reached by the Campus and Community Affairs Committee.
TUITION FEES FOR MD AND DDS PROGRAMS AND FOR MEDICAL RESIDENTS
Medical students Herbert Brill and Isabel Martin explained how recently increased tuition fees for dental and medical students create hardship for these students. This year, tuition for students entering the MD program is $10,000 and $14,000 for those entering the DDS program. Continuing students' fees increased 20% over the previous year's tuition.
Mr. Brill and Ms. Martin asserted that because incoming students face massive debts, accessibility is already being limited to students with available resources. They supported this contention by citing data from a survey they conducted in Western's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry that indicated that the average family income of students entering Medicine in 1998 is $150,000, as compared to average family incomes of $90,000 for the class that entered in Fall 1996, and $80,000 for the class that entered in Fall 1997.
Students can enter the MD program after three years of undergraduate education, but on average the entering MD student has five years of study prior to coming into the program. The program takes four years, followed by Medical Residency which on average is four years. By the time the graduate physician sets up a practice, he or she has accumulated many years of debt. During the period of study, there is little opportunity to earn money because of the demands of the medical program and Residency. Banks sometimes refuse to give loans to medical students because of the accumulated debt, and OSAP funding is restricted. Before deregulation of fees, the average medical graduate had a debt of $6,500 which included accumulated debt from undergraduate studies. In light of new tuition fees, a student entering the MD program in 1998 may encounter a debt of $100,000 upon completion of his or her Medical Residency.
The presenters and their colleagues from the Hippocratic Council stressed that they are very concerned about accessibility to the medical and dental programs and that they believe, based on the survey they conducted, that accessibility has already been affected. They made four recommendations:
During the discussion, the presenters were asked to provide the President or Provost with a copy of the survey conducted by the students in Medicine & Dentistry. They were also asked to have the students who were denied bank loans to contact the Registrar, since the University is committed to assisting students in deregulated programs to have access to bank loans.
Conclusions of the CCAC
Presenters' Recommendation 1: That there be no further increases in medical tuition, that the Medical Residency tuition fee be rescinded, and that accessibility to medical and dental programs be investigated.
The administration and the Board of Governors share the students' concern about accessibility in all programs and will continue to monitor this very carefully. There is no simple way to measure accessibility, but data collected over a period of time can inform decisions, including tuition decisions. As part of the annual planning process, starting this fall, Deans of Faculties with deregulated programs will be asked to provide data in the following areas: number of applicants; quality of applicants; competitiveness of the program (confirmation rate: acceptances/offers), diversity; student aid and debt. The CCAC could not assess the significance of the results of the survey conducted by the Hippocratic Council in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, but would like the President and Provost to be given the opportunity to review the questions, methodology, and responses.
Whether or not MD and DDS tuition will be frozen is still an open question, and accessibility will be one of the considerations in making that decision. The CCAC is not prepared to recommend that the Board make a commitment at this time to freeze medical tuition.
The Board of Governors approved the Medical Residency tuition fee in June 1998 for implementation in July 1999. When considering establishment of the fee, the Board had sufficient information to make a decision, including an understanding of the objections of those opposed to the fee. In the absence of any significant new data, the CCAC will not recommend that the Board rescind its decision.
Presenters' Recommendation 2: That the University take concrete action to increase funding for students, including lobbying government to increase OSAP and the education transfer.
The CCAC agrees, and observes that Western's administration is leading lobbying efforts in all possible forums, and is committed to continue to do so. These representations include (1) urging government to increase public funding for OSAP so that students are better supported and (2) direct core funding for universities so there is less pressure to raise fees. As well, the University's bursary program is being reviewed.
Presenters' Recommendation 3: That the University establish a separate bursary program for deregulated programs with a commitment to fund raising.
The CCAC supports this recommendation. The Committee was advised that the Provost has taken first steps to initiate plans for instituting separate bursary programs for students in programs where higher fees have been set. Deans will be encouraged to consult with students and to provide advice to the Provost.
Presenters' Recommendation 4: That the University administration communicate better with medical and dental students, in a timely way, before setting tuition fees.
The administration will undertake to advise the University community, including students, of plans for tuition fees in a timely way. The CCAC notes that in the 1997-98 year, the provincial government's tuition guidelines were not fully revealed until very late in the University's budgeting cycle. The administration will begin consultation with Deans and student representatives in the deregulated programs in the fall term of 1998-99.
ANALYSIS OF THE COST OF EDUCATING MEDICAL STUDENTS AT UWO
Circulated with the agenda for this public meeting was a paper by Mr. Rabinovitch entitled "The Cost to UWO of Educating Medical Students". Mr. Rabinovitch, a Director of the Medical Education Taskforce on Tuition and Accessibility (METTA), did not speak to this, but chose instead to focus on his new analysis "Medical Education Costing at UWO: An Adventure in Accounting & A Quest for Communication" which was handed out at the meeting. Also distributed at the meeting was the University's "Program Costing (Final 1997-98)" sent to Deans by the Office of Institutional Planning & Budgeting in September. Tables provided in that document are in a format similar to those presented in Looking Forward (May 1996).
Mr. Rabinovitch presented his analysis of the cost of educating a medical student at Western which concluded with two assertions:
(1) Since the implementation of deregulated fees, the University is making a profit from educating medical students. This analysis is at variance with the data provided in Looking Forward (and the 1997-98 Program Costing information).
(2) The methods by which the University ascribes costs to the Faculties are inaccurate and/or inappropriate, and important decisions about tuition have been made on the basis of program costing.
Mr. Rabinovitch concluded his remarks with the following recommendations to the Campus & Community Affairs Committee:
1. That, prior to implementing any future tuition increase, the University should set precise criteria and a plan for determining whether the existing tuition has excluded lower socio-economic groups from enrolling in the program, and
That the criteria and plan should be approved by the Senate and Board of Governors, and
That should it be found that there has been a decrease in access, the tuition should revert to its previous level.
2. That a committee be established to determine the cost of educating medical students. The committee should involve at least one medical student and a timetable should be set to establish the date by which the committee will have determined the cost of medical education, and
That this determination be no later than one month prior to the Board and Senate debate about tuition, and
That until the committee determines the cost of medical education there be no increases in medical tuition and then once the cost of educating a medical student is determined, that tuition be set at a level such that the University is not making a profit out of educating its medical students.
Conclusions of the CCAC
Mr. Rabinovitch's presentation and recommendations were predicated on the notion that revenues and expenditures in a given program should be revenue neutral, that once that balance is reached, tuition should not be increased. This is not the policy or philosophy of the University. As articulated by the President during the public part of the CCAC meeting, it is not possible to balance BIU/tuition income with expenses. This is because decisions regarding tuition levels are based on a variety of considerations including accessibility, earnings expectations following graduation, and program competitiveness, as well as program cost. Another necessary factor is the government's delineation of eligible programs under its tuition deregulation policy. The root cause for differentiated tuition increases is increasing costs in the face of frozen or reduced government funding.
Presenter's Recommendation 1: That precise criteria be set to determine whether a tuition increase has excluded lower socio-economics groups from enrolling in the program, and if this is found to be the case, that tuition revert to its previous [lower] level.
As noted earlier, the University is concerned about accessibility to all of its programs and is committed to studying the effects of tuition on accessibility. The administration, with the assistance from the Deans, will continue to consider accessibility as one of the criteria in setting tuition fees. The CCAC does not believe that precise criteria for accessibility can be identified, but recommends that each year, as part of the planning process, the administration make a special presentation to the Property & Finance Committee of the Board to explain how costs are attributed to programs so that Property& Finance can judge whether there has been a fair attribution of costs. Information provided to the Property & Finance Committee will be forwarded to the Board for information according to standard procedures. The first of these presentations will be made to Property & Finance this fall.
Because there is no simple way to measure accessibility, CCAC does not support a unilateral approach that would have tuition fees revert to a previous lower level if it is determined that accessibility of lower socio-economic groups has been diminished. There may be several reasons for this, and therefore a number of ways of addressing reduced accessibility, including such things as targeted bursary funds. This does not rule out the possibility of freezing, or possibly reducing, tuition fees.
Presenter's Recommendation 2: That a committee be established to determine the cost of educating medical students, and once that cost is determined, that tuition be set such that the University will not make a profit from educating its medical students.
It would be ideal if there were one set of figures with respect to the cost of a program that everyone agrees upon, but in fact, there is no simple algorithm for attributing costs to a program. Western is unique in Canada in publishing program costing information in an effort to be open about its attempts to ascribe costs to programs. But the attributions cannot be precise. In any case, the cost of delivering an academic program is only one consideration in setting tuition fees.
Contrary to Mr. Rabinovitch's thesis, the CCAC does not believe that the University is making a profit from its medical students. All reliable data indicate that the cost of educating a medical student far exceeds the revenues associated with that student. Again, even if the revenues and expenditures associated with medical education were approaching equilibrium, this does not suggest that medical tuition should be frozen. It is not intended that there be a one-to-one relationship between the cost of a program and tuition for that program.
In light of the conclusions set out above, the CCAC does not support Mr. Rabinovitch's second recommendation.
UNIVERSITY MATCHING FUNDS FOR CAMPUS BARRIER FREE ACCESSIBILITY PROJECTS
The Vice-President Campus Issues of the University Students' Council, Peter Hill, provided the Committee with background information about the undergraduate student levy which provides funding for barrier free accessibility improvements on campus. The fund began in 1993-94 at a rate of $4.00 per FTE and is increased by 5% per year. In 1999-2000, based on current undergraduate enrolment, the amount contributed will be $108,470. The barrier free accessibility improvements made on campus as a result of these funds benefit not only students, but also faculty, staff, and visitors.
Mr. Hill's written submission to the committee included a list of campus accessibility projects based on an informal survey carried out in the summer of 1998 by some members of the USC Accessibility Development Committee, the Student Development Centre, and Institutional Planning and Budgeting. The survey demonstrates that more improvements are needed to ensure that any student can access any service or take any course. Funds collected from the levy each year are insufficient to address all the needs: over of the 1998-99 resources have already been used to fund a small number of projects.
Mr. Hill acknowledged that the University and the Physical Plant Department have a commitment to improving barrier free access on campus, but there remain buildings on campus that are physically inaccessible to some. Students in wheelchairs, for example, must choose their courses based on where the courses are taught. Given the number of deferred maintenance projects that necessarily must have first priority, the budget of the Physical Plant Department is inadequate to fund projects to make existing buildings barrier-free.
Mr. Hill asserted that without a formal commitment of funding from the University, it will be difficult to continue to justify the undergraduate students' contributions through the special levy. In a letter circulated with the agenda, Mr. Hill set out three alternative proposals for consideration by the CCAC, listed in order of priority below:
1. That the University match the USC levy of $4.36 per undergraduate FTE in 1999-2000 and increase the matching funds by 5% per year.
2. That the University and the USC collaborate on a long term project. This would involve the USC and the University negotiating a percentage of the levy funds to be matched by the University from the operating budget. These combined resources would accumulate for approximately five years and then be invested in a large project, such as the complete overhaul of some of the least accessible buildings on campus, such as Physics & Astronomy, University College, or the Natural Sciences Building.
3. That the University collaborate with the USC on a short term project. The cost of the project would be jointly funded, would exceed the funds made available by the levy, but would not be more than $250,000.
Conclusions of the CCAC
The Committee is impressed with the efforts of the USC Accessibility Development Committee to improve barrier free access on campus through allocations of the student levy and for their collaboration with the Physical Plant Department in identifying needs in this area. The Committee commends the close working relationship, but is reluctant to recommend a matching dollar budget, particularly with the prospect of differing priorities and shifting demands on physical plant deferred maintenance budgets.
Each year the University sets a capital budget for the forthcoming year. This includes projects identified as barrier free accessibility projects. Less apparent are the expenditures on barrier free accessibility within renovation projects. Examples last year included:
Barrier Free Accessibility Projects:
Althouse College $35,000
Engineering Sciences Building $50,000
Barrier Free Access Costs within Renovation Projects:Somerville House: Conversion of 2 washrooms to barrier free as part of a classroom project (approx.) $20,000
This is a partial list because the cost of making barrier free improvements as part of renovation projects is not segregated. As a result, the overall investment by the University in these improvements to existing buildings may not be apparent.
In the view of the CCAC, it would not be advisable establish a fund specifically tied to barrier free access projects due to the need to distribute capital funds to the areas of highest priority. Nevertheless, the Physical Plant Department will continue to promote barrier free projects in the annual capital plan, to include barrier free improvements during renovations, and to work with the USC Accessibility Development Committee to identify the areas of greatest need. CCAC believes that it would be useful for the Physical Plant Department henceforth to identify barrier free costs within all projects and to maintain a list that can be utilized by the USC Accessibility Development Committee and reported to the Property & Finance Committee on an annual basis. The Senior Director of Physical Plant has indicated that this can and will be done.
The CCAC congratulates the University Students' Council's initiative and support since 1993 in improving accessibility to campus facilities. The fact that Western is one of the highest ranked universities in terms of barrier free accessibility is in no small part attributable to the contribution of Western's undergraduate students through the annual levy.