Ultra Vires


Faculty Council Revisits Tuition, Financial Aid

Mounting frustration from students, faculty over ever-higher tuition

Faculty Council met for the third time this year on November 21, where discussion again heavily focused on financial aid and tuition.

Campaign for Excellence without Barriers / Barriers to Excellence

Dean Edward Iacobucci began discussing these issues by acknowledging the Barriers to Excellence campaign. He tabled questions about the prudence of launching of a “counter-campaign” to a campaign aimed at increasing contributions to financial aid, focusing instead on what he characterized as the campaigns’ joint endeavour to make the law school more accessible.

The Campaign for Excellence without Barriers, he said, is aimed at increasing the gap between effective tuition and listed tuition as much as possible. The Campaign has thus far raised roughly $15 million for financial aid, and $25 million overall.

Tuition to increase 4% instead of 5%

Dean Iacobucci stressed the Faculty is also working on controlling tuition. He said that, subject to formal approval from the Provost, tuition will increase 4% next year instead of the statutory maximum of 5%.

Instead of increasing $1,836.00, tuition will now increase $1,468.80, representing a “savings” of $367.20 for students. Many SLS members praised the dean for this move.

Dean Iacobucci claims this may be the first time in 15 years that tuition will not increase by the maximum allowable amount.

Question and answer proves heated

Professor Mohammed Fadel asked what the average difference was between nominal tuition and effective tuition for students on financial aid. The Dean was not able to speak specifically. Instead, he said that the average bursary was about $10,000. He said many students also received government grants like OSAP on top of that.

Professor Jim Phillips pressed the Dean on the average effective tuition. The Dean admitted that the gap between tuition and financial aid has increased dramatically over the past few years.

Budgetary shortfalls “100% fully anticipatable and anticipated.”

Prof. Denise Reaume

Alex Severance (1L), an SLS representative, asked if more granular budget information was available, such as on compensation. The Dean declined to share that information, citing that it was an “HR matter.”

[The Government of Ontario publishes salary information for public employees earning $100,000 or more as part of the “Sunshine List”. The highest earner at the Faculty of Law is Dean Iacobucci, who earned $359,999.34 in salary and benefits in 2017. The next highest earner is Professor Arthur Ripstein. He earned $325,116.12 in 2017.]

The Dean stated that, historically, 96% of graduates receive articles. SLS President Solomon McKenzie asked if the Faculty tracked alumni past articling. The Dean said no.

The Dean mentioned that the Post-Graduate Debt Relief program was also available for alumni but did not give specifics on how many graduates used the program.

Professor Denise Reaume said much of the frustration from students and alumni over tuition is because the school says it is trying to do its best every year and treating the problems as new, when in fact they were “100% fully anticipatable and anticipated” when the Faculty, under the direction of Dean Ron Daniels, first started to increase professor salaries and tuition in 1995. She said there is frustration because it seems that there is no way the school can “get its head above water.”

The Dean once again defended his position because it was the “hand he was dealt” when he became Dean in 2015. He says that the school is doing the best it can.

Dean Iacobucci resented the notion that present circumstances were foreseeable and claimed that faculty budgets are crafted on five-year horizons. He did acknowledge, however, that present options are delimited by decisions taken in the past.

Related to these budget issues, the Dean also discussed recent provincial government decisions regarding post-secondary institutions, including the cancellation of proposed satellite campuses in Markham and Brampton, as well as the November 20 decision to deny funding to Ryerson University’s proposed law school. While the Dean noted that these decisions were perhaps justifiable on an independent basis, he did say that the general attitude displayed was disconcerting. The law school receives only 13% of its operating budget from the provincial government at present, but any decrease would compound the budgetary problems already facing the school.

Both SLS and the GLSA noted successful fall social calendars, with SLS hosting HalLAWeen and a Coffee House, and the GLSA holding a number of social activities for grad students, including a pumpkin carving contest and ping pong tournament. SLS president Solomon McKenzie also marked the launch of 1L exam study groups.

Faculty Council learned of a new Global Legal Studies certificate that may be offered as early as next Fall. Professor Albert Yoon said the program, to be launched in cooperation with the Munk School of Global Affairs, would allow JD students interested  in global studies to formalize these interests. If the program does get off the ground next Fall, students entering their final year who have taken some courses in the area would be able to add the specific requirements to their schedules and earn the certificate.

No time for mental health

Yukimi Henry’s presentation on the “Student Mental Health Survey 2017-2018 Results” was pushed to the next Faculty Council meeting.

Recording, questions not welcome

Dean Iacobucci reminded attendees that recording was not allowed at Faculty Council. He later clarified this was due to his understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order.

The Dean also declined to allow many non-Faculty Council students to ask questions, citing time constraints.

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