College boosts tuition fees
Victoria, not Okanagan College, is being blamed for hiking students’ costs.
Tuition for domestic students will climb two per cent in 2014-15 while it will go up eight per cent for international students.
“The responsibility for this lies with the provincial government and the lack of funding,” said Eric Reist, Vernon Students Association general manager.
“The college doesn’t have a lot of options. It’s legislated to balance the budget and short of cutting programs, it must increase revenue.”
For a domestic student taking a full-time university transfer arts program, tuition will increase from $3,203 annually to $3,267.
The domestic student tuition increase is expected to generate about $313,371 in additional revenue, that will be offset by an expected reduction in enrolment ($1.23 million) in some program areas because of the falling numbers of high school graduates.
International students, whose tuition hasn’t increased during the past five years, will face an increase from $11,000 to $11,880.
While he understands the cost pressures facing OC, Reist believes students will be negatively impacted by the tuition hike.
“Our fear is post-secondary education is becoming inaccessible to a greater number of students,” he said, adding that students also face the burden of books, transportation, rent and possibly child care.
The Vernon Student Association operates a food bank to assist students in need.
“We’re finding increased demand for that,” said Reist.
OC’s 2014/15 budget is worth $92.8 million.
“We have seen pressure on our annual operating budget from several fronts. We began this budget process wrestling with an issue that was measured in seven figures,” said Tom Styffe, OC board chairperson.
“It has led to some tough decisions, including some position adjustments, but we have a responsibility to focus on the sustainability of our initiatives, with respect for student and community demand.”
Some staff positions will be reduced, partly through retirements, but there will also be layoffs for two part-time support positions.
“Where required, we are also looking at shifting positions to reflect demand for programs,” said Styffe.