University says students paying for “convenience” with new fees

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James D’Arcy’s salary is $185,169. Jason Leung via Unsplash

Paying for what was free

The University of Regina is implementing a new technology for students called “MyCreds.” It’s supposed to improve ease of access and convenience for obtaining student documents, and is supposedly much easier than it was before. However, it doesn’t come for free. There are going to be varying fees for students to access different documents. James D’Arcy, registrar at the U of R, joined the Carillon via phone call to discuss the system.

To explain what MyCreds is exactly, D’Arcy, whose salary is $185,169, said, “My Credit is a digital or virtual document wallet, which is like a national network of post-secondary institutions across Canada. So, My Credit is a place where we issue those documents, and they are housed in a single digital wallet for students.”

According to D’Arcy, MyCreds will be worth it in the long run and benefits the students greatly. Although since students at the U of R pay more for schooling pretty well every year, it’s not clear that additional fees for documents that used to be free will be welcome. When asked about how beneficial something like the MyCreds program is for students, D’Arcy said, “number one, you’ll have all your documents in one place. And as more and more schools get on board with the system, you’ll be able to access all of those documents in a single wallet. So, if you attended the University of Alberta, who’s on the system, the University of Calgary who’s on that system and the University of Regina, you would be able to access all your documents issued from those institutions through the same system. Okay. So then the benefit, the other benefit is that it facilitates, you know, ease in the submission of documents”

However, not all students are going from university to university, so it mostly benefits the few who will attend multiple schools. Students are already paying through the roof for schooling.

D’Arcy justifies the students being forced to pay for their own credentials and the cost of the program by saying, “the fee that we chose to charge is amongst the lowest in Canada, and you know, there’s a convenience aspect of this, of course. It does cost to actually, you know, issue the documents, but the convenience aspect of it is that, you know, once that transcript is issued, it has a one-year expiry, and you can share that out, you know, as many times as you want.”

As explained by D’Arcy, MyCreds will have a one-year expiry on transcripts and will also be benefitting the university. D’Arcy said the system will bring in additional money to the department. On whether or not the university is profiting off the system, D’Arcy said, “not really because we do have, you know, staff costs that we need to pay for. There’s individuals that need to go into the system and issue the document.” He continued by saying, “I wouldn’t really say that we’re losing money, but it does help contribute to the administrative support that’s required to issue academic documents.”

To her surprise, the President of the Students Union, Hannah Tait, was just informed about the MyCreds system when she logged into her personal Self-Service account. Tait said “my initial reaction is that the university is getting all of these new digital services, and they’re shifting the cost of the services onto students.”

She said, “they’re raising the cost of education by making us pay for all of these, like, special little add ons. So, I’m not super impressed that now students are being charged for things that they haven’t been charged for before.”

Tait isn’t happy with the university pushing more costs on to the students. In response to students who might be outraged at another cost being tacked on, she said “I have a couple ideas because of my personal, kind of like, pet peeve, is this move to the digital learning environment without doing it in a conscious way.”

MyCreds has got Tait thinking on potential plans for a solution to the additional costs the system brings. She thinks that the best way URSU can deal with the problem is through advocacy and getting the university to see the student perspective on the matter. Another possible solution she sees is the university internalizing the cost of the program.

Potentially, if all else fails, Tait wants to create some kind of funding or reimbursement for those who cannot afford the system.

Tait said, “and then if that’s not, I guess, working well enough URSU would be able to potentially look into getting student funding to work through this process with students. For example, a reimbursement process, or another example, for reimbursement for people who need it, but I guess another example would be like, you could sponsor a peer-to-peer sponsorship situation. When we spend money, we’d have to look at the budget, we have created and approved our budget already, so we’re going to have to do some math and figure out what it’s all looking like.”

Another option that was discussed was the possibility of getting the university to cancel the MyCreds system altogether and how realistic that would be. Tait didn’t want to make any promises on the matter, but she didn’t want to say that possibility would be impossible. She said, “I think with URSU’s new direction, and new leadership, that we’re going to be headed in a much stronger direction where we do actually have a voice and when we do, you really have power in these conversations. So, honestly, in my position, if you’re not an optimist, you’re not going to make it. So, you know what I’m gonna say, yes, it is realistic.”

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