On April 2, University of Saskatchewan nursing students received an email on behalf of the Registrar’s Office detailing a fee adjustment for several nursing classes.
The affected classes range from the Spring 2019 term through Winter 2020. The additional fees have been added to eight nursing classes, impacting students from all years of the program in amounts varying from $10 to $200 depending on the class.
Concerns have been raised on social media about students’ ability to pay the fees since classes have been cancelled and many students have lost their source of income due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dan Stumborg, a fourth-year nursing student who is graduating this year, claims that there was no proper communication between students and the university on this issue. According to the email, students were made aware of these fees at consultations that were conducted in early 2019. However, Stumborg insists that “no communication about these fees has ever been mentioned” to him.
“We feel extorted by the university and are feeling like our voice isn’t being heard,” Stumborg said.
The email the students received stated that the additional fees would be applied to individual student records by April 3, resulting in a hold on their accounts. This would affect students’ ability to change their registration status and access their final grades for the semester or their transcripts.
“The college is holding this information over our heads and says it will not send out our completion or transcripts until these fees are paid,” Stumborg said.
The Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ Association released information about the need for nurses during the pandemic, but Stumborg says that not having a transcript will make it difficult for him to obtain an Emergency Practicing license.
The registrar’s email states that a “technical oversight” led to the delay in processing the fees, which were approved in 2019 but not collected. No late penalties will be incurred if students pay the outstanding fees by August. The office also plans to work with students to “assist in any problems” that arise with their records.
Lois Berry, Interim Dean of the College of Nursing, made a statement to the Sheaf regarding the fee readjustments. Berry acknowledges that the message would have been difficult for students and understands their frustration.
“The College of Nursing is working with the Registrar’s Office to try and minimize the impact on our students through access to emergency funding and waiving monthly late fee penalties,” Berry said.
“Moving forward, the Registrar’s Office and the College of Nursing will implement proactive cross-checking measures to verify that data entry into the registration is accurate and that students are informed of the nature of all fees through their course syllabi.”
Students are still hoping to have the fees revoked. They are taking matters into their own hands by creating a petition and contacting the media, MLAs and the health minister about the matter.
“We did not want to get anyone else involved, but at this point we don’t feel [like] we have a choice,” Stumborg said.
Erin Matthews | Opinions Editor
Photo: Heywood Yu