Brantford students charged illegal fee

This fall Laurier Brantford students in the concurrent education program who take classes through Nipissing University were issued a $250 illegal charge for a mysterious iTeach program.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union at the beginning of September.

WLUSU has since contacted Nipissing administration to start taking the appropriate steps to increase awareness about iTeach and alleviate the confusion students are experiencing.

“We’ve kind of been working at the lines of communication we’ve been using to hand this information out,” said executive vice-president of Brantford operations Melissa Burke.

iTeach is a program that was developed to enhance the technology side of learning in the education classes at Nipissing.

It integrates Apple computers and software in the classrooms.

The implementation of this program caused a new fee to be charged to the students who would be making use of it.

“The fee itself isn’t being charged through [Laurier’s Online Registration Information System] LORIS because it’s an illegal fee,” said WLUSU president Laura Sheridan.

“The way students paid this fee was to drop off a cheque or bring in [their] money.”

It was advertised as a tuition-related compulsory ancillary fee.

These types of fees were made illegal in Ontario in the late 1980s.

In order to legally charge this fee it would have to be put to a referendum and voted on by students.

“If the students want this fee we will find a way to make it legal, but if students don’t want this fee than it shouldn’t be existing,” said Sheridan.

A referendum will allow students to decide if the $250 fee is worth what they get from iTeach, or if they would rather forego the program and not pay the money.

“As soon as we clarify exactly what it is and what good it will do for [students], they’ll be more accepting to it,” said Burke.

“[Legalizing the fee] seems to be the course of action currently.”

Students began inquiring about the fee shortly before classes began and have continued to express confusion over where it came from, why they are being charged it and what it is for.

Laurier and Nipissing have been working together to clear up the misunderstanding.

“It’s not so much that there’s an issue with the program or the quality of the program … but the steps that were taken to bring this fee forward were not in line with the financial manual that the Ontario government tells us we need to follow,” explains Sheridan.

“It seems like it was just an honest mistake that Nipissing administration and faculty made.”

At the present time, it is unsure what will be done regarding the students who have already paid the iTech fee.