New Fees, New Construction Projects

academic tower
It probably won't look like this artist's conception from 1995, but an academic tower – at long last – is going to be erected atop the existing Student Centre within the next few years.

An extremely premature setting of the price of tuition and tacked-on student fees for 2018-19 has provided, also, a sneak-peek at college construction plans during the next few years.

Both the fees and the associated projects were unveiled during the October 24th meeting of the college’s Board of Governors (BofG), held at the Centre for the Arts campus.

St. Clair President Patti France and Associate Vice-President of Student Services and Registrar Mike Silvaggi explained that the fee-setting schedule for all colleges has been advanced by several months, by order of the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD).

Previously, tuition rates and associated fees had not been set until the late-winter or early-spring of each year, to mesh with the April-start fiscal year of the institutions.

But the MAESD recently ordered that those fees be set well in advance so that they could be publicized as part of the new OSAP application process. If a prospective student was to launch the application process right now (in 2017), for the impending academic year (2018-19), he/she would have access to precisely accurate information about both the tuition and fees awaiting him/her.

The 2018-19 base-tuition hike will be the one that students have been accustomed to for the past several years: three percent higher than it was last year. So, for most, standard, “non-high-demand” programs, that will be $3,025.13 per year.

The coming year, Silvaggi noted, marks the final year of a half-decade of MAESD-regulated tuition hikes in the three percent range. The ministry could implement another set of controlled increases in the future, or it could allow institutions to set their own individual rates. (Stay tuned.)

Beyond that, the new “Fee Schedule” was fascinating because it listed the special charges which have been added to bankroll new construction projects at the school.

All of these fees, if should be noted, have been negotiated between the college’s administration and the school’s student governments in the form of Windsor’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and Chatham’s Thames Students Incorporated (TSI). Both of those organizations have agreed to the retention and/or amendment of existing fees, and the creation of new ones.

• First, beginning in the fall of 2018, all full-time, Windsor students will be charged a $100 per year “expansion/construction fee”, that will be in place for ten years. It will, in part, bankroll the addition of three storeys atop the existing (original) Student Centre. That academic tower that will house a “new and improved” School of Business and Information Technology.

Also as part of that project, the SRC – which originally developed the Student Centre and currently manages it – will add some new, first-storey amenities, including an on-campus bank and a pharmacy.

In addition to the monies raised by the new fee, the administration will be seeking provincial/federal government capital funding grants for the project, and possibly corporate donations tied to “naming rights” for the building.

No construction-start date has yet been set for the new academic tower.

When Student Centre was originally designed in the mid-1990s, it had been envisaged as a multi-storey building: lounge, lab and food outlets on the first floor, and classrooms above. At that time, students (in a referendum vote) agreed to a special fee to construct that main-floor portion of the building. The college’s administration paid the additional costs to install a basement in the building, so that there would be a foundation capable of supporting the upper storeys (when it had the cash to proceed with such a project).

• Second, parking fees will be hiked by 14 percent next year – for both students and staff – to generate revenues for related projects. Those include the paving of what has been, for years, a gravelled lot at Thames Campus in Chatham; and … maybe at long last! … a parking garage at Main/South Campus in Windsor.

Although the administration may have to handle the latter project on its own, its preference is to develop blueprints; and then find a private-sector company that would be interesting in building, managing and running the garage for its own profit via a contract with the school (similar to the operation of the school’s Residences).

• Third, beginning in the fall of 2018, Thames students will begin paying a $100 per year fee to generate funds to ensure that the HealthPlex (athletic facility) at the Chatham campus always has the most up-to-date amenities and fitness equipment.

• Fourth, beginning next year, the fee for a college student photo ID card will be increased to $15, to further enhance the system in a “one-card” manner: so that it can be used for secure-door and gated-parking-lot swiping, in the computer labs for printing, in the library, and as a debit card at various on-campus commercial outlets.

• Fifth, the existing, $150-per-year fee – dating back to 2008 – that generated student funds to assist with the construction of Windsor’s SportsPlex, has been extended for 11 years (to 2028). The additional cash will, now, be used for the construction of additional athletic facilities: in this case, an outdoor SportsPark. Located south of the main entrance, that development will feature a new soccer field, a fieldhouse, tennis courts and sand-volleyball pits. (St. Clairians may see the initiation of that project sometime this year.)

• Sixth, an entirely new fee – the Credit Transfer Assessment Fee – has been created. Students who are exploring the possibility of moving to another college or university, who wish to know if a course taken at St. Clair will be accepted as an equivalent credit at their new school, will now have to pay $25 per course enquiry. Silvaggi said the Registrar’s Office had previously provided that service for free, and St. Clair had been one of the few schools in the province that was doing so. The procedure is a time-consuming one for staff, he noted, so the decision was made to start recouping some of that expense.

Also listed in the 2018-19 list of charges are the special, mandatory-purchase “material/kit/tools fees” associated with certain programs,

France noted that it is necessary – and advantageous – to specify all of those fees because the material/kit fees can then be claimed as eligible educational expenses under student aid applications.

Now approved by the Board of Governors, students should see the 2018-19 tuition and fee schedule pop up on the Registrar’s Office webpage (www.stclaircollege.ca/registrar/) sometime during the current academic year.

RECONNECTING WITH PANAMA

Also during the meeting, the BofG authorized the administration to commence negotiations with the government of Panama to renew ties between St. Clair and that Central American country’s postsecondary system.

For well over a decade, St. Clair has welcome hundreds of Panamanian students from a number of professions for both English language training and enrolment in assorted programs.

Its most recent deal with Panama’s federal government – which foots the entire bill for that training of its citizens – expired this year, and St. Clair will now launch negotiations to establish another five-years-long partnership.