Shut up and pay the Man

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Opinion: Michelle Jones - Copy Editor

Opinion: Michelle Jones – Copy Editor

According to a new Statistics Canada report released on Thursday, Sep 12, Saskatchewan (not surprisingly) has been hit with the highest tuition increase in Canada.

Undergraduate tuition in Saskatchewan was hiked up 4.7 per cent at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, graduate students saw an increase of 4.9 per cent, and international students were hit with a whopping 6.7 per cent increase—all of which were deemed the highest increases in Canada.

But, this isn’t the only place where we are topping the charts. We now hold second place for highest tuition paid in Canada at $6394, a close second behind Ontario, who is sitting at $7259.

Of course, the tuition hike is old news. But, in light of this new report from Stats Canada, I don’t think many students were aware of just how bad the increase really was. Graduate students didn’t just see a tuition increase of nearly 5 per cent. We were also the victims of a 63.9 per cent increase in mandatory fees. Yes, the decimal is in the correct place. According to Stats Canada, Saskatchewan graduate students are being forced to pay $454 in compulsory fees, which includes union dues, recreational facility fees (whether you use them or not), among others.

image: waterinmajorca.wordpress.com.

image: waterinmajorca.wordpress.com.

Statistics typically don’t lie—at least, not from what I’ve learned in university. However, according to the NDP, Premier Brad Wall was quoted saying, “Just a correction. I’ve heard this in some of the media since the Stats Can numbers came out. Tuition in Saskatchewan is not the second highest in Canada; the tuition increase that some of the universities had for year-over-year is probably in that range, but not tuition levels.”

So, he is admitting that Saskatchewan has seen some of the highest tuition increases on average over the past few years, but isn’t willing to admit that we are now paying the second-highest tuition in Canada? I don’t know about you, Premier Wall, but those numbers look pretty solid to me since, as a new graduate student, they match up with my statement of tuition and fees paid for this semester and next.

So, in light of the new information, it forces one to question where the money is going. Many departments were forced to downsize (the English department lost 20 sessional instructors, leaving them crippled with four), saw major budget cuts when there were already no funds to cut, and now offer fewer classes as a result, yet administration positions are on the rise, URSU got a raise for doing nothing, as far as I’m concerned (seriously, what union actually sides with the Administration? Especially when students are paying them not to—but that’s a totally different issue—sort of), and there seems to be money available to build new buildings and spend a mint on new signs, even though the old ones are still in perfectly good shape.

We’re seeing less bang for our buck, so-to-speak. We’re paying more, but receiving less in return. Why is it that we are paying the second-highest tuition fees in Canada, yet we are struggling to find classes to take because there aren’t enough offered? Why is the university constructing new residence buildings to increase student population when they aren’t even able to offer enough classes for their current students? And, most importantly, should an academic institution not see an increase in faculty instead of administration positions?

But, what would I know? I’m just expected to shut up and pay up.

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