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Tuesday, March 5, 2002

  • Many students face 15 per cent hike
  • Not our project, says Ploughshares
  • Employees pressed to join pension plan
  • And a little of this and that
Chris Redmond

Canadian guidelines for stem cell research

[Plan your day . . . let's eat]

A week away: High school students and their parents will converge on campus next Tuesday, March 12, for the annual Campus Day open house.

Many students face 15 per cent hike

Undergraduate students in engineering, computer science, architecture and optometry will see their tuition fees go up by 15 per cent this year, provost Amit Chakma said yesterday, briefing the senate finance committee on proposals he plans to bring to the board of governors.

Those are the programs whose fees are "deregulated" under Ontario government rules, meaning the university can charge whatever it wants. Fees for graduate programs are also deregulated, and Chakma said those fees will go up 5 per cent for the coming year, with most of the money being turned back into graduate scholarship funds.

By government rules, fees in regulated programs are limited to a 2 per cent annual increase.

Different increases will apply to the fees paid by international students, which are also not subject to government limits, Chakma said. Foreign students in mathematics and science will pay 15 per cent more in the coming year; foreign students in other faculties, 10 per cent more.

[Pie graph]

More than half UW's students are in programs with government-regulated tuition fees. Full-time equivalent figures for the current year: grad students, 1,851; undergrads in regulated programs, 12,028; undergrads in deregulated programs, 5,778.

The tuition fee increases are a major building block of Chakma's balanced budget for the coming year, which the committee approved after only brief discussion. It now goes to the university senate for approval, and then to the board of governors at its meeting in the first week of April.

"We are looking at another budget cut beyond the 3.5 per cent that was levied this year," Chakma pointed out, but said the general cut will be limited to 2 per cent. At the same time, $1.5 million -- equal to about half that cut -- will be turned back to some departments "to pay for growth that will take place in various faculties".

Chakma said he is "happy" that the cut turned out to be 2 per cent, "because all our previous projections were pointing to a higher number." He noted that some items, such as library spending, aren't being increased at all in this budget, but said UW hopes to use a one-time windfall, a few million dollars in "overhead" funding from the federal government that was announced in December, to cover costs of that kind.

He warned the committee that a vital line in the budget, representing government grants, is based on guesswork -- the prediction that government funding for the cost of increasing enrolment will end up at 75 per cent of the real cost, even though 100 per cent has been promised. This year it was more like 40 per cent, with the number of students going up faster than expected.

UW's fiscal year starts May 1, and in all likelihood there won't be reliable information by that time about what level of grants will be arriving, the provost said.

Chakma said the government is now "worried that the previous plans that the universities have submitted will not take care of the double cohort problem" and has asked for new plans to be sent in. "They have calculated our pro-rated share -- can we take that many students? Very likely, under current circumstances, the answer from the system will be: We can't."

Other clarifications

Contrary to what I said yesterday, this month's meeting of the UW senate will be held March 25, not March 18.

Yesterday I wrote about people from various UW departments attending the Higher Education Users Group convention in Las Vegas this week. Among them I mentioned human resources. "Although there are members of the HRMS team attending this year's conference," I'm told, "no HR staff are attending."

Not our project, says Ploughshares

Project Ploughshares, based at Conrad Grebel University College, says they're not the main agency behind a proposed peace centre to be housed in the former Seagram Museum building in central Waterloo.

Ernie Regehr, director of Ploughshares, called yesterday to say the Record got the story somewhat wrong in its report on Saturday, and that I distorted things even more in the brief item in yesterday's Bulletin. The key person on the project is John English, UW history professor and former Member of Parliament, Regehr said. English, who is director of the Centre on Foreign Policy and Federalism, wasn't available yesterday to talk about the plans.

Regehr said Ploughshares will have to move out of Grebel soon, because the college needs the space it's occupying, and might move into the former museum building (currently used by Waterloo Maple, a software firm) in connection with the new institute. But Ploughshares is not the sponsor of the proposed centre, he stressed. "We're a minor part of something that would be operated by someone else."

Employees pressed to join pension plan

The pension and benefits committee and the human resources department have started putting a little gentle pressure on staff and faculty members who choose not to join UW's pension plan.

"Your pension would be greater if you were contributing to the Plan now," says a letter sent recently to all the eligible employees who haven't joined the pension plan. Faculty and staff over age 35 must join the pension plan and start making contributions -- normally 4.55 per cent of earnings up to $39,100 a year, with higher amounts for earnings beyond that level.

Before age 35, individuals don't have to join the plan, and some choose not to. But the P&B committee wishes they would, partly as the result of experience with older staff and faculty who discover they don't have as many years of pension credits as they might wish.

Says the letter that was sent out recently: "One of the primary factors determining the size of your pension is your Credited Service which is defined as the number of years and months that you make contributions to the Plan. The other is your base earnings near retirement or termination. Therefore, the longer your Credited Service, the greater your UW pension."

In addition, new staff and faculty who join the university are now being asked to sign a "waiver" making clear that they understand the consequences of not joining until they reach the watershed age of 35.

Says the waiver form: "Your signature below indicates that you realize by deciding to join the UW Pension Plan at a later date, your UW pension will be lower than it would be if you joined the Plan now. Note that you are entitled to join the UW Pension Plan at any time between the present date and age 35. Also, note that buying back Credited Service is not permitted by the Pension Plan."

Minutes of recent meetings indicate that the P&B committee has discussed making all employees join the plan, either immediately or at an earlier age than 35, but so far has been reluctant to do that because it would seem "paternalistic".

And a little of this and that

[Brick factory] Ontario finance minister Jim Flaherty will be the star of the show on Thursday at a site on Melville Street in Cambridge, south of Kitchener, that just happens to be the proposed home of the UW school of architecture. An invitation to a 10:30 a.m. ceremony there speaks of "a major funding announcement" involving the school and the Cambridge Consortium, which already owns the building in question (right).

Now I have a question, directed at the students who write e-mail messages to me from such domains as hotmail, sympatico and msn. The question is: why? All UW students have e-mail service available through the university, and sometimes I do receive messages from those domains, such as engmail, undergrad.math and scimail. But it looks as though the majority of students are sticking with the (often free, often web-based) providers they used in high school, and not using their UW e-mail. I'd like to know why. Send me any comments, at credmond@uwaterloo.ca, and I'll summarize in a couple of days. Incidentally, I also posed this question to Jay Black, associate provost (information systems and technology), the man in charge of UW's computing, and he says he doesn't know the reason either, but would like to. He added that he will soon be setting up a task force to study the relationship of students and e-mail, including such issues as whether students should be officially expected to read their e-mail (at some address or other) so that university notices can safely be sent in that way.

As previously noted, we're now in Plan Modification Week, the opportunity for students to switch from, say, honours philosophy to actuarial science, or vice versa. Upon saying so yesterday, I got plaintive e-mail from a former denizen of Waterloo, now based at a top-level American university, who said she'd read the announcement "with some incredulity": "It may seem like a minor point, but UW has a world-class reputation for its technology; introducing such a vague, unintuitive title in connection with its software just doesn't reflect well on the university's design or communication standards."

Ah well. Moving along: a notice reminds us that "At the end of April, the Registrar's Office will be sending convocation information to students' home addresses for all students that have submitted a 'Notice to the Registrar of Intention to Graduate' form. It is important that you update your home address in QUEST by March 8. If you change your home address after March 8, you must also notify the Registrar's Office of your new home address so that we can send the convocation information to your correct address -- please send an email to registrar@uwaterloo.ca and include a subject line of Convocation Address-X (where X=your faculty)."

Says a release from the UW news bureau: "The Clarica Scholars Program, a joint partnership with Acadia University, the University of Waterloo and Clarica that connects teachers, students and experts in a dynamic and collaborative technology environment, is now accepting applications for the summer 2002 program. The program identifies, trains and supports a core group of teachers and students from secondary schools across Canada to prepare them to be leaders in advancing technology and teaching in their classrooms. Last year, 140 high school teachers and students from 35 schools across Canada, spent a week at Acadia or UW working on their projects for integrating technology in the classroom."

UW Graphics reports a change to the business hours for its "main graphics" location in the General Services Complex, just north of the Davis Centre. "We will be open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m." The phone number is still ext. 3452 or 3453.


Tomorrow, there will be a drop-in nutrition display, "The ABCs of Healthy Eating", from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Carl Pollock Hall foyer -- right outside the engineering coffee-and-doughnut shop.

Tomorrow also begins the student-organized peace conference at Conrad Grebel University College, "From Militant to Non-Violent Intervention". The star tomorrow is Jack DuVall, author and producer of the video series "A Force More Powerful", who will speak in the Grebel cafeteria at lunchtime, show the videos in the afternoon, and lecture at 7 p.m. in the great hall of the college.



March 5, 1970: The north quadrant council in Village I sponsors Discotheque Pubnite in the Village great hall -- admission, 25 cents.

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