The student association representing pharmacy students is saying they have been receiving less money from their faculty than in the past, despite previous agreements.
The Alberta Pharmacy Students’ Association (APSA), a student organization that represents and organizes events for pharmacy students, said they have been receiving a smaller share of a market modifier fund from the faculty of pharmacy than they used to. According to Students’ Union vice-president (academic) Akanksha Bhatnagar, APSA controlled approximately $50,000 to $60,000 of the MMF for the 2017-18 academic year. This year it is down to $40,000. The fund is used to help student betterment events and initiatives like the annual Blue and Gold Ball, awards, bursaries, and intramurals.
Jes Buhler, president of APSA, said the market modifier fund (MMF) decrease has impacted the quality and level of services or events offered by the student association.
“In the last few years the fund has decreased,” she said. “It is not that the fund towards students has been decreased, it is just more toward the amount that the faculty is allocating to APSA.”
A market modifier is an increase in tuition above inflation to a specific program based on comparisons of similar programs across the country, demand for the program, or graduates employment prospects. All market modifiers have to be approved by the provincial government. The revenues that are generated are placed in a MMF.
In 2007 an application was submitted to the Alberta government about establishing a market modification to the faculty of pharmacy tuition. This was based on the higher cost it took to educate a pharmacy student as compared to another in a different field.
APSA was supportive over this increase in tuition if a few requirements on the MMF were met. These conditions include:
- The creation of an entry-level doctor of pharmacy program, now known as the PharmD Program.
- No increases in tuition until the market modifier went up for renewal.
- APSA would receive a certain amount of the MMF to give back to student life.
Ken Cor, the faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences assistant dean (assessment), said conversations are “ongoing” between student stakeholders, the SU, and the faculty.
“The faculty is currently engaged in conversations,” Cor said. “MMFs are an ongoing discussion that is always on the table. At this time, because matters are still progressing, we do not have any additional comment.”
Bhatnagar said this trend is “alarming.” She said the SU is now actively taking a role in assisting APSA with this situation.
“This year, the MMF was cut way more substantially than promised,” Bhatnagar said. “There is a lack of transparency as to why the cuts are being made and where the money that is cut is being invested.”
Bhatnagar said the faculty is still cooperating with APSA if the student association is making a funding proposal for an event or initiative. She said most of the time the faculty just absorbs those costs instead of giving APSA money from the MMF. Bhatnagar said this boils down to the faculty not trusting the student association.
“They are not letting APSA have control,” she said. “It is very unfortunate to see their faculty not trust their students association.”
Buhler said the student betterment initiatives and activities supported through APSA receiving funds from the MMF “definitely” improve student life in the faculty.
“Students find positive benefit in what APSA has to offer,” Buhler said. “We hope we can continue to better student life in the faculty.”