By Sherina Harris
Around two-thirds of fees Ryerson students pay to student associations and unions will be mandatory under the university’s recently-approved 2019-20 budget.
In January, the Ontario provincial government announced several changes to post-secondary tuition and funding, including that students would be able to opt out of certain non-essential, non-tuition ancillary fees.
The guidelines for the Student Choice Initiative, released at the end of March, list the fees that must be mandatory.
At the April Board of Governors (BoG) meeting, deputy provost Glenn Craney said the goal of the budget was to “preserve as much student life as possible.”
He noted that under the government’s guidelines, all except one of the ancillary fees Ryerson charges will be mandatory fees, whereas the ones deemed non-essential are the fees Ryerson collects for student associations and unions.
The government’s guidelines state that post-secondary institutions must ensure students can opt-out of the optional fees through an online process before they pay their tuition.
At the BoG meeting, Craney said there will be a message on the screen warning students that if they opt out of a certain fee they may not be able to access the corresponding service.
He also said Ryerson is looking at how students can opt back in—or choose to opt out later—at other points during the year.
Other updates discussed at the April meeting centred around the budget cuts for the upcoming year. The provincial government lowered domestic student tuition by 10 per cent, which will result in Ryerson losing 5.3 per cent of its operating budget, or around $29 million.
To combat this, Ryerson will accept 500 more international students, Craney said. Tuition fees for current international students will also go up by five per cent, which he said is consistent with how Ryerson has increased it in the past. Tuition fees for incoming international students will go up even more.
Ryerson also introduced a voluntary retirement program for full-time career CUPE 233, OPSEU, MAC or senior administration members.
Craney also said fewer courses will be offered, and some vacant positions will be closed.
The budget includes four per cent reductions for all units, according to Ryerson’s website.
A message from the provost and vice-president academic, Michael Benarroch sent to staff, and obtained by The Eyeopener, states that despite Ryerson’s “best efforts, job losses may be an unfortunate outcome of this process.”
The message says that reduced job offerings for contract lecturers “will also be a regrettable consequence” of Ryerson’s budget parameters.