Another provincial budget has come and it’s time for the annual debates on campuses across Alberta. What will happen to our education’s quality? What about our tuition? What exactly does a “low-value” course mean?
We at The Gateway decided to try and tackle the biggest question that’s natural to ask coming out of this. If the U of A is looking for something to cut and save money, what should it be?
All MOOCs All Day
Massive Open Online Courses have proven their value with DINO 101 and the History of Video Games course. It’s time we eliminated in-person classes entirely and replaced them with MOOCs. We wouldn’t just save money by removing redundant classes, we’d generate it by charging people from other schools to take courses here. Online schools get a bad rap, but the U of A has enough clout to pull it off.
It does leave us with a lot of empty campus space, but we could do what we always do in Edmonton: raze the historical buildings to the ground and build a car-only shopper’s paradise of Wal-Marts, Best Buys, and Staples. – Kevin Schenk
Cut 100 Level Courses
Being a fourth-year student, the one thing I’ve learned for sure over the course of my degree, is that 100-level classes are an absolute joke. The majority of my peers towards the end of their respective degrees would probably agree with that.
Hundreds of students funnel into massive lecture halls to sleep, browse the Internet, talk to their friends or haphazardly take notes that they’ll browse over possibly once or twice before any midterm or final. So why not scrap the majority of 100-level courses and make them all available online? This would help facilitate professors’ efforts with their higher level courses, and it wouldn’t exactly be a loss for students, who in reality, don’t take these courses seriously anyway. — Jon Zilinski
My idea to save the university money may sound drastic to some, but I can assure you it’s the best way to move forward from market modifiers and budget cuts.
I propose that we cut all classes currently held in the labyrinth known as the Biological Sciences Building. Not only will this cut costs, but it will allow us to repurpose the Biological Sciences Building for a much more profitable purpose.
All students who have mistakenly wandered into the Biological Sciences building can attest to the fact that it’s a maze of dead ends, abandoned rooms and endless stairs.
What I suggest, now that students and researchers will no longer occupy the building, is that we repurpose the building to collect free labour for the school. Anyone who wanders into the newly repurposed Biological Sciences Building will surely get lost within its funhouse-esque walls. These lost and confused wanderers will be put to work for the university as free labour, effectively saving thousands of dollars in both wages and benefits.
While some may object and argue that this plan is somehow unethical, I say this: times are tough, and we need to pull up our bootstraps and save money however we can — even if that means kidnapping students and forcing them to work for the university. — Jason Timmons
Cut Administrative Salaries
With the new provincial budget, it seems to me that there’s a glaring hole to be addressed by the university: the administrative salaries.
Indira Samarasekera made more last year than the President of the United States, which is a travesty considering that the University of Alberta doesn’t even come close to having the fiscal budget of an entire country, let alone the U.S.
Now, I get that running a university is stressful, especially in current economic times, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that the U of A paid for Indira’s home renovations and a salary of more than half a million dollars annually on top of it. If the university cut administrator salaries, that would both increase the budget without needing to cut entire departments and also increase administrator-employee parity.
If the salaries of the president, vice-presidents and provost were more on par with those of other professors, than there would be a greater risk in the face of failure without an earnings cushion from previously-extravagant paycheques to fall back on, inreasing accountability and having the added benefit of raising the fairness of the university wage system.
Overall, it just seems like a win-win-win, and is obviously a bandwagon we should be jumping on. — Hannah Madsen
Cut Bad Attitudes
The real problem with cost-saving at the U of A isn’t budget cuts, market modifiers or even rising tuition, it’s quite simply the students’ negative opinions that need to change.
That’s why if it was up to me, I’d cut every student’s bad attitude.
Why complain about education not getting enough funding, when instead you could just be think about how much worse it could have been? If we were just grateful for the relatively minor cut education received, we’d have a lot less to complain about. Voila, no problems.
Carry over this attitude to all of the other tuition news, and everything will start to seem alright.
Next time a student association advocates for a market modifier increase and wants your opinion — which I’m sure was responsibly looked for this year too, I believe you, LSA — don’t think about how much more expensive your education is getting or how many intelligent potential students will now find university less accessible. Think about how much better your education will hypothetically be once anyone actually tells you where these market modifier funds are actually going. Any day now, right?
Next time hundreds of U of A students march on the legislature to protest rising tuition, don’t worry about all of those condescending comments from conservative politicians that tend to follow on the nightly news. Take their empty encouragement to let your voice be heard at face value. Maybe eventually they’ll actually listen to it, who can say?
And next time you hear a student politician openly talk about how low-income students aren’t their priority, casting doubt on how many students are really struggling to pay their tuition, remember how much money you spent on over-priced lattes and realize that, golly, that councillor must have a good point. This is all relevant reasoning, right?
The problem has been us all along. But think positively and you won’t even notice that mountain of student debt slowly growing for each student as another year goes by. Just grin and bear your way through a University of Alberta degree, and always look on the bright side of life. — Andrew Jeffrey