So I just received an e-mail from UBC asking me to fill out a survey on tuition. There are three questions and they read as follows:
- To what extent will the proposed 2% tuition increase ($88.59 on a base Arts/Science tuition) be an impediment to you continuing your studies at UBC?
- Your tuition currently pays for 28%-30% of the operating costs of your UBC education. A government grant and investment income pays the balance. Choose one of the following to rate this 28%-30%:
- What is the most important thing for UBC to invest in at this time?
I have several problems with these questions, especially the first two.
Question 1: Will an increase of 2% tuition ($89) impede you from attending UBC?
x – It would not be an impediment
x – It would create some financial pressure but I could manage the increase
x – It would seriously impact me and I would have to consider delaying my studies or not returning to UBC
I think that this is a perfectly appropriate question to ask. However, it is worded badly and even more worrisome, it could be used to misrepresent students.
The authors should really specify whether the $89 is for one semester or two. Not a big deal but important if they want to clarify. My bigger concern is the way most students will answer and how that could be used against them. I would guess that if most students answered honestly (without thinking about the consequences of their answers) they would answer that it wouldn’t really impede them from returning. As high as some claim that tuition is I don’t foresee a lot of students leaving university over $100. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I’m going to assume.
The concern with answering with the first option is that the administration will look at their results and say “Look AMS, here is proof that students can deal with larger increases.” That isn’t a good thing. And when the results are released the AMS, GSS, and students at large need to make sure that the questions aren’t used against them.
2. Your tuition currently pays for 28%-30% of the operating costs of your UBC education. A government grant and investment income pays the balance. Choose one of the following to rate this 28%-30%:
x – Too high
x – An appropriate range
x – Too low
Ahh the Goldilocks question. Too hot, too cold, or just right. The big problem with this question is that the issue is much to complicated to boil down to the three answers. I sympathize with the university on this but still think that this isn’t so much a question about tuition as it is a financial structure question. One that students at large and even those on the inside will have trouble answering.
Overall I’m quite upset by the survey. It strikes me as being very teleological (having a goal in mind before it is concluded). It is also possible that this was drafted up in response to the AMS tuition referendum question that passed. The university has subtly used the survey to show students that a) the tuition ‘increases’ that everyone is in a fuss about are very small and b) most of the money we get comes from outside sources (revenue or grants).
While I do agree with them that a 2% yearly increase is perfectly acceptable (I voted No on the referendum question) I disagree with the purpose of the survey and hope that the Administration didn’t mean it to be as nefarious as it could be interpreted.