Editorial – Breaking News

[t]../articles/images/Column-Editorial.jpg[et]Just today, the new AU Executive blog was put up, and in it, President Shawna Wasylyshyn outlines a couple of upcoming changes to the fees that AU students will have to pay. The first is that the tuition for international students is being given a “market adjustment”, which essentially is business-eze for “significant price increase because we think people will be willing to pay that much more.” AUSU used its presence on the committee to amend the increase so that it at least did not apply to international students already enrolled in an AU program.

The second, more substantial change, is a change to the learning materials fee. In the past, AUSU has argued on multiple occasions against AU’s one-size-fits-all learning resources fee. The arguments against it have been multiple.

First, that the fee, being required, limits student options in finding cheaper options for their texts. This became more acute once AU moved to e-texts, an option that many students find difficult to use, forcing them to purchase their own text anyway.

Second, it limits options for educators, as there is pressure for them to ensure that the costs of the textbooks they use are as low as possible, rather than simply being the best text to aid in teaching the material.

The third argument made was that the one-size-fits-all fee was essentially forcing students taking courses that have lower-cost course materials to subsidize those students in courses where the texts are more expensive.

AU has always been reluctant to go this route, however, as part of the learning materials fee also goes to cover the AU produced materials, such as your study guide. In addition, I always thought that part of their reluctance was knowing that some courses made a notable profit on the learning materials, and it would be difficult to give that up.

Until now, that is. AU has finally decided to stop including text-books in its learning materials fee, and has reduced the fee by $50 as a result. This means that we now pay $130 for the AU produced materials, but are free to seek out the texts from any provider we can find. No doubt that some students will see this as a bad deal, especially those students in disciplines where the normal cost of their textbook is higher than $50. Many others, however, will find this to be a boon, especially those who would be purchasing a paper text in any event, or those in courses that have limited outside materials used.

I expect there will be a secondary boon that many students will not notice. With the separation of learning materials and textbooks, we can be hopeful that this will allow AU to update courses more frequently based on changes in knowledge, and so no longer will we have courses trying to teach us using technologies that are already obsolete and difficult to find.

This will also free course designers to consider the full range of texts that are available when creating courses, and not be constrained to those that can fit within the learning fee. With the constantly rising cost of textbooks, this is something that will become increasingly important if we want AU to continue to deliver a top-quality education, and I expect was at lease a portion of what has caused AU to finally change its tune on this matter. It also become more difficult to have a one-size-fits-all learning resources fee if AU follows the advice of the [i]Independent Third Party Review[ei] and starts creating a larger variety of courses rather than the current standard of every course is a six month course with a certain number of educational hours expected.

Overall, I think the change is a necessary one, and while some students will undoubtedly find their education is going to cost them more than they previously expected, I hope that the benefits students will see in the quality of their courses following this change will make up for the difference. I had some truly bad text-books throughout my degree (usually they were computer science texts for some reason) and if paying a bit more means students get a text-book that’s helpful in the learning process, as opposed to one that’s simply frustrating, that may well be worth it.

Meanwhile, our feature in [i]The Voice Magazine[ei] this week is an interview with Leah Campbell, Bachelor of Arts student, former police liaison, and future lawyer. She explains why AU is the right fit for her and how her favorite book is a recipe book. Once you read this week’s “Minds We Meet”, you’ll understand why.

We also have a look at the grade appeals process, from someone who’s been through it, successfully. If you received a grade you really think you didn’t deserve (as opposed to simply didn’t want), this may well be the article for you.

But what this issue really has is pictures. Xin Xu gives us a literal look at street food from the far east. Including a drinkable soup-bun that, to me, looks like it’s slightly obscene. Perhaps that says more about me than the bun, but there it is. Also, Wanda Waterman also gives us a number of pictures showing off one of Montreals’ Ruelle Verte, or green alleys.

On top of that, we have the usual selection of thoughtful and though-provoking columns, from a Fly on the Wall exploring the essence of what it is to be an AU student, to a Dear Barb letter from someone who’s taken up being an escort to pay for school, and worries about what repercussions this might have with friends and family. Plus we look at the AUSU Council Meeting of July 11th and the new pharmacy plan AUSU is bringing forward, a hidden scholarship treasure for AU students, some new AU events for next week, a Creative Spark! that trashes trashing anything, and more.

But I should note that next week, I’ll be taking a short break to recharge the creative batteries and get some long-delayed chores taken off the plate. This means that there’ll be no new issue of the Voice Magazine for August 4th. But since August 7th is the civic holiday for much of Canada, I expect you’ll be out camping or doing other things that wouldn’t let you read it anyway.

We’ll return the week after, with the next issue of The Voice Magazine coming to you on August 11th.

So, until then, enjoy the read!


P.S. If you didn’t already know, [i]The Voice Magazine[ei] has a [L]Facebook page|http://www.facebook.com/AUSUVoice/[EL] and a [L]twitter feed|https://twitter.com/AUSUVoice[EL] if you’re into that kind of thing!