University students face tuition increases for upcoming year

By in News

Many University of Saskatchewan undergraduate and graduate students will be expected to pay more for their student fees and tuition costs in the upcoming 2016–17 school year, with an average 2.5 per cent hike in costs across campus.

Last month, the university’s board of governors worked towards unanimously determining the cost of obtaining an education. Although tuition rates will be increasing 2.5 per cent on average, 68 per cent of U of S students are facing increases above this average based on the college they are currently enrolled in.

Gabe Senecal, U of S Students’ Union vice-president academic affairs, expressed his concerns regarding the correlation between tuition costs and the current standard of education.

“I would say that [tuition increases] are predictable, but not necessary. If they are increasing [tuition rates], we as students want to see an increase in the quality of our education, not just increase for the sake of increase,” Senecal said.

The College of Veterinary Medicine faces the most substantial hike in tuition with a five per cent increase in expenses — a change from $8,680 to $9,114 for the upcoming school year. The College of Education also faces considerable increases of $5,753 to $5,955, a 3.5 per cent rise.

The College of Arts and Science has the largest portion of U of S students in its program, making up 43 per cent of the student demographic. Arts and science faces an above-average tuition increase of nearly three percent, or approximately $5,790 to $5,955 for the 2016-17 academic year.

In addition, the Edwards School of Business, the College of Kinesiology and the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition are facing substantial costs above the 2.5 per cent average increase. As for international students, undergraduate rates are nearly three times the domestic rate and graduate student rates are one and a half times the domestic rate.

The College of Engineering and the College of Dentistry are not facing any increases in tuition, but there will be no tuition decreases either.

John Rigby, the university’s interim associate provost of institution and planning, touched on the board’s consideration in accommodating the financial limits faced by students.

“We recognize that rising tuition presents a challenge for our students, and try to buffer them from increases as much as we can — which is why on average the 2016-17 year’s increase was 2.5 per cent rather than the 3.5 per cent we anticipate our costs will actually increase,” Rigby said in an email to the Sheaf.

Currently, tuition makes up 25 per cent of the university’s operating budget. Other sources of revenue for the university come from the provincial operating grant and other sources of academic funding and investment. The U of S reports that tuition is directly funded back to its students through ensuring a satisfactory learning experience.

When making annual changes to tuition costs, the board of governors works towards ensuring a high quality of education through comparing the U of S to other universities across Canada and taking into consideration accessibility and affordability for prospective and current students.

“Some colleges have directed tuition increases to help partially fund specific projects such as improved student space, while other colleges need the increase in tuition just to maintain their current level of quality. When the principles are considered simultaneously, the result is not always an increase,” Rigby said.

In 2014-15, Statistics Canada reported a 1.8 per cent increase in the consumer price index, indicating a higher cost of living for students. Senecal stresses that managing personal living expenses while working towards a degree is fiscally challenging and discouraging for many students as tuition becomes more costly.

“The consumer price index and the difference in between the two indicate the relevant increase in the total cost of getting an education. If that continues to increase, a post-secondary education becomes more inaccessible or at least students will be required to take on more debt to finish their degree or work more,” Senecal said. 

According to Senecal, with various factors increasing the overall financial strain faced by students, many individuals may be forced to compromise the quality of their educational experience in order to generate the funds necessary to pay for their education.

“Either you’re not focusing on your academics as much as you need to be, or you’re focusing on paying your bills.”

Infographs: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor