Okanagan College students face tuition hike

Okanagan College's 2012 budget includes a two per cent increase in tuition as well as levies for parking and printing documents.

Okanagan College students are reluctantly accepting higher fees.

The institution’s 2012 budget tackles a $2.6 million shortfall, and it includes a two per cent increase in tuition as well as levies for parking and printing documents.

“The college was in a difficult position and had to make difficult decisions,” said Eric Reist, general manager of the Vernon Students’ Association.

A full-time student taking a business administration program will see a tuition increase of $77.60 while students in first-year university arts will pay $61.57 more tuition for the year. A plumbing apprenticeship student faces a $13.52 hike for the year.

Two semesters’ parking in 2012-13 will increase to $143 from $90 — the first hike in 15 years.

The college will also introduce a fee of 10 cents a  page for printing (it is currently free).

While he admits higher costs will negatively impact some students financially, Reist says the positive is that no programs are being cut.

“There’s been a fairly balanced approach,” he said.

Sixteen staff positions will be eliminated throughout the Okanagan.

“Of the 16 positions we’ve identified for reduction, at least nine will be through attrition or retirements. The others will be layoffs,” said Jim Hamilton, OC president.

The college has about 1,100 staff.

Reist believes the current situation at OC is a direct result of the provincial government not providing sufficient support.

“That’s put the college in a double bind. It can’t run deficits but it’s not getting adequate funding,” he said.

Unless the government changes its policy, Reist expects more belt-tightening may be needed.

“Next year we’re worried about the possible impact to programs,” he said.

The 2012 budget includes additional funding for student bursaries, more business courses and minimum wage increases, which will maintain the number of employment opportunities for students at OC.