North Island College tuition rising in spite of students' opposition

North Island College students will pay two per cent more for their domestic tuition again next year.

The college's board of governors voted last week to approve the two-per-cent increase for tuition and mandatory fees for courses and programs starting after Aug. 15.

Two per cent is the maximum allowable increase for domestic tuition under the Province's tuition limit policy.

The two student representatives on the board — Jacelyn Lobay and Amitej Walia — opposed the tuition increase, according to NIC director of college and community relations Susan Auchterlonie.

Lobay "stated that while the students recognize that the college's current fiscal situation is difficult, annual tuition increases are, of course, compounding, and as such, the rising cost of tuition is having a great impact on our students," recalled Auchterlonie.

While Auchterlonie said the board understood Lobay's concerns, it needs to be able to balance its budget.

This tuition increase means $74,000 in additional revenue for programs funded by the college's base operating grant from the Province. As it did last year, the college expects to receive a reduced operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education this year.

"We have been advised that we will be receiving a reduced operating grant which makes it, in the board's perspective and the administration's perspective, all that much more difficult to balance our budget," said Auchterlonie, noting reduced operating grants are part of the Province's plan to save $50 million in advanced education spending over three years.

"Everyone was very respectful," Auchterlonie said of the board's discussion about the domestic tuition increase. "The students certainly understood the need from a budgetary point of view but also really wanted to impress the fact that our mandate is access and affordability, and by continuing to increase tuition it is becoming less affordable for students from our region to attend.

"There's a great deal of sympathy on the board for the students' position. It would, I believe, be the board's preference not to have to increase tuition, if we were to be appropriately funded."

Despite the tuition increase, NIC continues to have the lowest tuition of post-secondary institutions on Vancouver Island and the eighth lowest in the province.


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