Students sound off on tuition fee security

Universities reluctant to comment on security measures

Tuition security measures are not the same at all post-secondary institutions in the city. For example, CMU does not require students to show ID when paying with a credit card. Cindy Titus

An unsolved tuition theft at Red River College’s Princess Street campus four months ago has raised questions about the safety of students’ tuition money and personal information between the time students drop off their payments and when universities actually deposit them.

University campuses across Manitoba were reluctant to comment on the security measures they’re taking to protect theft of tuition funds.

“Payments made at Student Central and the drop box are physically locked and monitored around the clock. We will not provide any more specific details about the security in place, as it would decrease the effectiveness of our controls,” Diane Poulin, communications officer at the University of Winnipeg, said in an e-mail.

The lack of information regarding the security of finances has some students concerned about using certain forms of payment for tuition.

“I feel safer paying through WebAdvisor. Because it’s a secure server, I think it’s safer than if I’m dropping off a cheque,” said Bhaudeep Rehal, a fourth-year biology and biochemistry student at the University of Winnipeg. “One time I thought I already paid everything in the drop box, and my student records said I had not paid.”

In the case of the Princess Street campus theft, no actual financial loss was suffered because of insurance coverage. But as one U of W student pointed out, money is not the only concern in thefts such as this.

“Even if your money is safe, your personal information is not,” said Zafar Sacranie, a fourth-year rhetoric student. “More than your money is at risk. [Things like] your name, address, phone number and banking information can be on the cheques you drop off.”

Even though administration at universities were not quick to speak about security measures, it is clear that they’re not all equal.

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), for instance, has looser identification requirements than U of W. Identification is not necessary for tuition payment at CMU. One student could theoretically pay for tuition with someone else’s credit card.

“It’s way too trustworthy,” said Stephen Penner, a third-year politics major who studies and pays tuition at both U of W and CMU.

This year the U of W has implemented a $50 fee for students who wish to pay tuition by credit card, due to credit card companies charging a percentage of the payment that could exceed $50 for some tuition fee payments.

Published in Volume 64, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 21, 2010)

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