Bear in mind the increase is meant to benefit students, says U of S College of Law dean Sanjeev Anand. The additional funds will be used for more competitive entrance scholarships, to hire faculty members to teach new courses, and establish new experiential learning opportunities, among other things, he says.
Most importantly, he says, is students have been kept in the loop about the changes. The faculty held town hall meetings to consult with students about the increases and address their concerns.
Marty Wales, a third-year law student and president of the Law Students’ Association, appreciates the fact students were involved.
“A tuition increase isn’t always well-received, but I found that once people understand and learn where that money is going and the kinds of things that it will offer them, I’m seeing a lot less reaction to it,” he says.
This was not the case at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law last month when students protested the annual eight-per-cent increase, which raised first-year tuition to $27,460. Part of the issue was that students didn’t understand the rationale behind it. “[T]here’s not really a lot of explanation coming from the administration,” U of T law student Joshua Mandryk told 4Students.
Wales says he supports the increase at his law school.
“It is a substantial amount but having been told where that money is going to and what it’s being used for, it’s very hard to take any serious issue against it,” he says. “I’m willing to see my tuition go up . . . provided that that money goes towards things that are going to benefit me.”
Anand says additional funds are needed in order to compete with other Canadian law schools.
“[We] need to be more competitive because we’ll end up losing great students to other schools,” he says.
“It’s a forward-looking plan. So we’re cognizant that even with these increases, we’re actually below the median of many of our comparative schools,” he adds. “The point here is not just to keep up with the Joneses, I’m not so concerned about that as dean. What I’m concerned about is that we have enough resources to offer our students a cutting-edge legal education, a comprehensive legal education.”
Wales says he understands the need to increase tuition fees.
“There’s an implicit understanding that to stay competitive within Canadian law schools there is a certain need to increase the cost associated with it to improve the final product that students are getting,” he says.
Anand has also proposed a 10-per-cent increase for the 2014-15 academic year to further develop the law school’s resources and create new experiential learning programs.
When asked how these increases will affect students’ debt load, Anand says: “I do have a lot of sympathy for students who are graduating with debt. I do think that at times it does force their hand in terms of the career options that they have open to them, but . . . we’re in a situation now in Saskatchewan and in Alberta where the economies are fairly robust, particularly when you compare them to central Canada.”