Tuition hikes projected for 2014/2015

Budget Committee votes to raise tuition another two per cent next year

Graph by Jessica Klymchuk and Sean Brady, data source Ministry of Advanced Education.

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

The Budget Committee of the Senate (BCOS) recently agreed to raise tuition and ancillary fees by two per cent for 2014/2015.

Provincial government policy limits tuition fee increases to two per cent annually.

Since 2005, tuition fees have increased by 193 per cent, according to TRUSU.

Vice president of administration and finance Matt Milovick said TRU is looking at a $1.7 million to $2 million increase in costs next year, just from inflation. He said the salary lift by increasing tuition by two per cent is only $600,000.

“That two per cent on tuition doesn’t cover the university’s inflation rate costs across the board,” he said at a BCOS meeting on March 11.

Liz Whiting, TRUSU Aboriginal representative, is a BCOS member and made sure to voice her opposition to the increase at the March 11 meeting. Whiting said the university is not holding up its end of the bargain to operate more efficiently. It’s running a deficit and still relying on tuition fee increases.

Revenue from student fees in 2010/2011 represented 34.9 per cent of total revenue, according to TRUSU. The student union has also reported that universities of the Research University Council of British Columbia generated an average of 25.1 percent of their total revenue from fees. Out of the 25 publically funded post-secondary institutions in B.C., TRUSU claims that TRU is the third most reliant on fee revenue.

“I’d like to highly speak against this,” Whiting said. “Now that we are starting to look long term we’re going to see in reality that students aren’t going to be able to afford this.”

“That’s grocery money, gas money. That’s a trip home to my parents. That’s what that money is to me. To you it might be nothing but to me it is quite a bit,” Whiting told the committee.

“Your point is well taken about the university being more efficient with costs and we’re certainly trying to do that but, on the revenue side, I don’t want to put the university in a position where we have a structural deficit because we’re not taking the maximum allowable,” Milovick responded.

TRUSU president Dylan Robinson said although tuition fee increases are devastating to students, there has to be a focus on the underlying reason for them: lack of provincial funding. Although TRU is still on the lower end of tuition fee costs, its provincial funding is also less than most institutions in B.C. and declining, which means fees are increasing every year.

Robinson said since TRU became a university in 2004/2005, its per student funding has decreased from $10,897 to $8,207 last year and is now at an all time low. He said TRU students receive 35 per cent less funding than the average Canadian student and $6,000 less per student than other B.C. universities with a similar mandate.

Milovick also cited provincial grant funding as one of the main reasons for tuition hikes.

“If there’s lobbying to be done it has to be done at the provincial level because our level of grant funding is considerably lower than other institutions in the province, so we’re not getting our equitable share, well what we think is equitable share on a per student basis,” he said at the BCOS meeting.

Milovick said the government funding is historically based.

“We are sensitive to the fact that this increases costs to students, but on the flip side we are publically funded and when the funding isn’t coming, to maintain our quality, we have to take the increases where we can,” he said.

“There isn’t an institution that isn’t taking the two per cent allowable.”