Residence fees, tuition go up as university tries to balance books

St. Thomas University students can look forward to paying more for a lot of the same next year.

The university’s 2011-12 budget could see some students pay almost $500 more than last year.

The budget reveals a $200 tuition increase for both Canadian and international students, as well as a $280 increase to residence fees.

STU students’ union president Mark Livingstone said he is disappointed by the price hikes.

“It is not in the best interests of students,” said Livingstone.

“When tuition increases it can affect the overall accessibility of an education.

“Because STU has the lowest tuition in the area, it attracts students that are sensitive to money issues. This especially affects those prospective students.”

Livingstone said the students’ union was told residence fees went up because “the cost of food has gone up, as well as the price of building maintenance.

“This raise in residence fees is supposedly for upkeep, perhaps some capital projects. It’s doubtful that the average student will see a whole lot of change.”

STU’s vice-president of finance and administration, Lawrence Durling, says while much of the money from the increased fees will be going towards maintaining much of the same, there will be visible additions to the campus.

“We are bringing in four new faculty members to provide student support and increase our school quality. That costs money,” said Durling. “Going to the students is not the first place we go. We try to lessen the impact on them.”

Raising tuition to the highest allowable amount under the province’s tuition increase cap was the only way to cover their costs, Durling said.

“We really did try to keep the increase at $100, but with the rise of inflation and constrained government grants, I feel like this was our best option.”

While the residence fee increase may have caught some off guard, the increase in tuition has not come as a surprise.

The newly-elected Progressive Conservative government, led by David Alward, didn’t continue the tuition freeze in their most recent budget. The government instead capped annual tuition increases at $200.

To avoid further price increases in residence fees in the coming years, Durling said the school is looking to an additional 50 students in residence during the upcoming school year to offset costs, as well as offering different meal plans.

“Our current food contract is coming to a close, so when we go to market next year, with raising food prices being one of the big issues, we will be looking very carefully at prices.”

Durling did not rule out the possibility of more price hikes next year.

“It’s too early to tell. This is a break even budget and we are just trying to cover our costs, said Durling. “I don’t know what next year will have in store, I’m only concerned with breaking even now.”

While limiting accessibility for some, the tuition increase could see other students make more sacrifices, Livingstone says.

“It takes a lot of sacrifice to get a degree. It’s something that people are going to have to sacrifice that much more for now.”

 

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