author: taylor balfour | news writer
Once again, you will spend more per semester
Tuition increase is a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of students and families everywhere. When tuition increase becomes a reality, it’s important for all those affected, students, families, and faculty, to be aware as to why these things happen.
However, according to the university’s report of tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year, it assures that “the general increase in tuition of 2.5 per cent is reduced from the 3.8 per cent general increase in each of the past three years.”
Despite this, Dr. Thomas Chase, Vice-president of Academia, says that it’s still important for people to understand why and how tuition increases affect us, and how it will require a change in our routines.
“The first group I would point to would be the families of the students,” Dr. Chase said when asked about who all is affected by the change.
“Tuition goes up most years and of course students in many cases are paying all of it themselves. But in many other cases, their families are helping to support them through university.”
“It also has an effect on the employment market in that students require more funding. More of them are out looking for jobs, more employers are therefore confronted with more students looking for those jobs, but I’d certainly identify those groups immediately, the families and the employers,” he explains.
The report does say “the unemployment rate in Saskatchewan, at 6.0 per cent in March 2017, is unchanged from March 2016 and remains below the national average (6.7 per cent).”
According to the report, the Higher Education Strategy Associates [HESA], claims that “the total of student aid loan remissions, student aid grants, tuition rebates or discounts, tax credits, the Canada Education Savings Grant, the Canada Learning Bond, First Nations’ Band funding for post-secondary education, and institution scholarships and bursaries is almost exactly the tuition paid by Canadian university and college students.”
“We’re doing everything we can at a time when of course our government funding is being substantially cut this year to preserve the services that face students,” Chase explains.
“Obviously the teaching, obviously things like counselling and mental health and advising, registration assistance, all of those things that actually face students we’re doing our best to preserve. Over time though, if we continue to see cuts to the grant, we’re going to have to look really carefully at everything on campus and ask ourselves what is essential, what must we continue, and what are some things that maybe we need to let go of?”
The announcement of tuition changes came after the Saskatchewan government announced their budget this past spring, detailing that the University of Regina would receive a cut of $7 million.
Reductions of this size can cause rifts in services and performances around the university, but Dr. Chase assures that the university is doing all that they can to remove as little as possible.
“It’s difficult to say that there’s a direct relation,” he explains.
“I think in some areas you won’t see many changes at and in other areas class sizes have increased because student demand has increased dramatically.”
“So what’s been driving that in course sizes is student demand, not so much tuition. One of the things that we find of course though tuition increases annually, so too have enrollments every year since 2009, so it’s a complex series of factors with these things.”
The University of Regina has increased in enrollment, especially in newer programs, drawing more attention with students.
“I would point particularly to the Faculty of Engineering, which has grown hugely in the past 5 years,” Chase says.
“Kinesiology and Health Studies has become more and more popular with new students and therefore they’re increasing quite dramatically. The nursing program has grown hugely since it started five years ago.”
However, the worry as to how this tuition increase will affect international students is still present. The report claims that “no change is proposed in the undergraduate international differential multiplier (3.0). The rate is unchanged since 2010-11.”
The report also says that the “graduate international surcharge is charged on a per term basis. The increase to $1,127.50 is exactly 2.50 per cent.”
Dr. Chase explains that, while budget increases affect all of us, there are little ways that we can all assist in keeping costs at a low.
“On the little end of the scale, I think that everything that all of us can do, students, faculty, staff, administration, to help maintain a clean and safe campus is pick up after ourselves,” he explained, going into examples such as preserving books in the library, not damaging things on campus, and cleaning up after ourselves.
“If we all said ‘let’s do it ourselves,’ we save our caretakers’ backs, we save caretakers’ time, and we can invest that money on things that we really need,” he explains.
“They seem very small, but if everybody out of the thousands and thousands of people on campus all do that, that contributes to a reduction in costs.”
Aside from keeping the campus as clean as possible, working on vocalizing our concerns is a step in the right direction.
“The big thing I would put out to students is to work with all of us in the post-secondary sector to articulate the case for education to government and to the general public to help people outside of university to understand how very valuable university’s are.”
“We’re in a very competitive environment for public resources,” he explains.
“Health care, of course, increases its costs every year. It’s the biggest cost centre for the government, and education comes somewhere down the list of priorities with health care at the head.”
For now, all that we can do is vocalise our concerns.
“If all of us work together to articulate to everybody out there in the general community how valuable post-secondary education is, I think that’s a very big thing and a very important thing to do.”