By Katherine Hiebert (Contributer) – Email
As many students have discovered, it is getting harder and harder to attain much-needed seats in entry-level and service courses. Those students not declared in a degree or diploma program may be waiting one, two, or even three semesters before they can take certain courses, such as English 105 or Psychology 100.
The most recent UFV administration course cost-revenue formula is producing some unexpected numbers. Here are some course costs and revenues as provided by the office of the VP Academic:
Psychology 100: 36 students generate $13,368 in tuition fees: average cost to run 1 PSYC course $25,400, shortfall $12,032
English 105: 24 students generate $8,912 in tuition fees: average cost to run 1 ENGL course $25,000, shortfall $16,088.
Social Work: 24 students generate $8,912 in tuition fees: average cost to run 1 SOWK course $28,700, shortfall $19,788.
Chemistry 100 level with labs: 36 students generate $22,280 in tuition fees: average cost to run 1 CHEM course $61,000, shortfall $38,720.
Funding shortfalls are covered by government contributions to post-secondary growth funds. The amount of funding given is based on enrolment. However, with full-time enrolment currently capped and over capacity, and post-secondary growth funds being frozen, UFV has a serious struggle ahead if it wants to provide for the needs of its students.
These four cost-revenue examples demonstrate that in today’s economy running a public, post-secondary institution above capacity is a money-losing operation. But without the ability to adequately satisfy its client base by opening new classes the school may be contributing to future losses by turning away paying customers because there simply isn’t enough of its product to go around.
If the university cannot meet demand, it poses another serious issue for the school: competitors. Given the Fraser Valley’s post-secondary education needs, students may be forced to pursue academic opportunities offered by private educators, like Sprott-Shaw and MTI community colleges. UFV could also lose students to other public institutions in the Lower Mainland if it is consistently unable to provide for its students, all of whom are desperate to get ahead given the recent turbulence in the economy.
One good example of this began last fall, with Trinity Western University offering UFV students access to its courses at a reduced tuition rate. Last semester, at least 23 in-demand 100-, 200- and 300-level UFV equivalent courses were being offered at TWU, and a free and quick credit transfer was promised to those who chose this route to deal with the lack of space. Students enrolled in at least two UFV courses were permitted to register in one TWU course, and TWU reduced the tuition rate from $650 to $225 per credit hour for these individuals. This creates a relatively simple and viable alternative for students struggling to get all their required courses completed in time for graduation, but it raises the question of why a public post-secondary institution is being forced to outsource to a private one.
With the Liberal leadership race coming to a close, students will have to wait to find out the future of UFV’s growth funding. Will the newly-elected leader place a higher priority on public, post-secondary institutions in the province, or will the economy’s recent downturn continue the tightening of government purse strings? With the government’s current deficit, the future of UFV’s ability to meet students’ demands remains uncertain.