Repeated fee blunders spark calls for change

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By Stephen Petrick

Another year of administrative errors with tuition statements has sparked calls for Ryerson to review how it registers students. Amy O’Brien, a second-year journalism graduate student, received a statement telling her to pay $6,751.53 – almost $2,000 more in tuition. She blames the mistake on the bubble sheets that Ryerson has used to register students since at least the 1980s. The technical glitch comes a year after several radio and television arts students were mailed incorrect fee statements for as much as $6,100.

When O’Brien and a classmate selected their classes last spring, an administrator told them they had selected too many classes and erased a few pencil marks. But they suspect the computer used to record the selections detected some of the markings that had been erased. Last month, O’Brien was mailed a statement saying she owed $, for an almost 200-per-cent class load. Her classmate, Rachelle Youglai, received a statement charging $5,869.30 for a 100-per-cent course load. They should have been charged $4,987 each. The error was corrected at the student fees office, but O’Brien wants the school to update its registration method. “My big concern is [the school] does this by computer and they have no system of checking,” she said.

Journalism Chair Vince Carlin said he’s seen several students with tuition problems in the last two years. “We should be looking for ways to reduce errors,” he said. “What are the other schools doing? That could be explored.” O’Brien, who studied at Concordia University and the University of British Columbia before coming to Ryerson last year, said the same problems wouldn’t arise at those schools. There, students registered for classes by phone. Their course selections are read back to them afterwards to make sure there are no mistakes.

But the person responsible for the class selection sheets at Ryerson defended the bubble-sheet method, saying the system is less prone to errors than it was decades ago when people recorded students’ selections manually. “If there are only two problems this year the system works marvelous,” said Ken Scullion, Ryerson’s assistant registrar. “I’m not going to investigate a new method over two errors.” He acknowledged that no one in his department checks for potential problems before the sheets are fed to a computer.

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