Higher education means higher tuition

The Okanagan College Board of Governor’s has approved a two per cent rise in tuition fees for the upcoming academic year, which has disappointed members of the college’s student union.

A balanced budget was approved for $95.5 million and addresses a $1.6 million shortfall by increasing tuition, reducing expenditures and an anticipated enrollment increase.

“This is only the third time in eight years that we have implemented an across-the-board fee increase,” explains College Board of Governors Chair Tom Styffe.

“Our goal this year was to avoid program and service cuts and we have achieved this. We want to ensure that we continue to provide access to the quality education that our students and communities deserve.”   

Each year the province allows most post-secondary institutions to raise their tuition prices by a maximum of two per cent, but prices at Okanagan College have only risen 6.1 per cent since 2005.

Members of the Okanagan College Students’ Union say they understand the financial situation colleges are facing in the province, but feel what they are seeing is the cumulative pressure brought on by years of funding cuts that are now being off-loaded onto students.

“If post-secondary education was a priority for the provincial government, students in the Okanagan would likely not pay some of the highest college tuition in the province,” says Campaigns Director Chad Athay, who feels there is a disconnect between the decision makers in the government and the ordinary students in the province.

The increase in tuition is expected to yield about $302,500, while an increase in enrollment is projected to yield about $92,000 in additional tuition. Reductions in departmental expenses and increases in revenue are estimated at $240,000, while increased revenue from contract and custom training is projected to yield $670,000.

In the end, a typical full time student in the Arts program will pay an additional $62.79 per year.

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