Incoming Dentistry students for Fall 2014 will pay a new mandatory $2,500 fee per semester to contribute to the Faculty of Dentistry’s $18 million relocation project.
The fee is the result of a student-initiated referendum question run through the Dental Students’ Society (DSS), and will not affect current students.
Announced on Oct. 18, the relocation project will move the faculty’s facilities to a new location on the corner of McGill College Avenue and Rue Sherbrooke by June 2014.
The project includes the modernization of most of the faculty’s activities, including research, clinical teaching, and its undergraduate teaching clinic.
The faculty has raised $6 million to date to fund the $18 million move, mainly through donations from faculty supporters. The remainder will be funded through a loan.
The referendum question, which was proposed by DSS President Sina Hashemi, was approved by 87 per cent of current students, although the fee will only affect new students.
According to Hashemi, the decision to exempt current students from the contribution is due to two reasons.
“First, current students were not aware of this contribution prior to applying and therefore would not have been able to budget accordingly,” Hashemi said. “Second, this contribution may have affected their decision to attend McGill’s Faculty of Dentistry.”
The fee will amount to $800,000 per year and will help cover repayment of the faculty’s loan. Total student fees paid by first-year dentistry undergraduates from Quebec are currently $7,134, while out of province Canadians pay $15,556.
Hashimi said that DSS’s decision to impose the fee was voluntary.
“The faculty suggested the students consider contributing to the faculty,” Hashemi said. “The DSS felt it necessary to help fund the move because we will be contributing and investing in our careers.”
Austin Chang, a grade 12 student from British Columbia and prospective McGill Dentistry applicant, said the fee may influence his intention to attend the university.
“This new fee greatly affects my desire to apply for McGill Dentistry, as the extra expense will take a significant toll on my student budget,” Chang said. “Since it is all students [who] would be using the new facilities, then it is all students that should help in compensation for the move. Perhaps a lessened fee for current students would be better than none at all.”
Yuxin Mei, U3 Dentistry, voted ‘yes’ in the referendum to impose the fee and said he would still choose to come to McGill even if he had to pay the fee.
“McGill has always been my top choice and I’d even pay another $10,000 to go to this school because as a Quebec resident, it’s still cheaper than [Dentistry programs in] the rest of Canada.”
The relocation comes as the result of the closure of the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in 18 months. As a result, the RVH dental department will need to move into the space currently occupied by the faculty in the Montreal General Hospital (MGH).
According to Paul Allison, dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, the relocation is also intended to consolidate the faculty’s activities and address its outdated equipment and lack of space.
“The clinic itself is probably 20 years old, so the equipment needs to be replaced,” Allison said. “There’s a considerable lack of space [and] the lab hasn’t seen any major renovations since the 1980s.”
Allison added that the move will benefit students and the greater community by bringing everyone together in one space. Currently, the Faculty of Dentistry has teaching and research activities in a number of locations. By June 2014, the faculty plans to have completely vacated MGH and to have mostly vacated the other buildings, aside from some offices and research activities that will remain in their current locations.
“[It] will provide the public with easier access to our clinic by public transportation,” Allison said. “The new space will bring research, clinical teaching, graduate, and dental services together, and become the hub of the Faculty’s community outreach activities, all in a state-of-the-art facility.”