College of New Caledonia board members Friday approved another year of tuition fee increases, despite a move by a student board member to delay the decision.
In keeping with its policy to raise tuition fees until they are at the average for two-year colleges in B.C., the board agreed to a 2.77 per cent increase to fees for academic courses – about the same as the projected cost-of-living increase.
Trades training students face a much steeper increase of 13.78 per cent.
Faculty association rep George Davison panned the “average tuition” policy, saying it is “like trying to nail jelly to the wall, like trying to hit a moving target.” With all but two of the province’s colleges raising their fees, the average continues to climb, he noted.
Davison pointed to the elimination of student grants in last week’s budget as an example of where the college should find more money.
In comments following the budget release, Finance Minister Gary Collins said the $30 million being taken from the grant program and put into post-secondary operations could be used “to decrease tuition, increase seats or increase research.” Davison recommended the college decrease fees.
Student association rep Rob Mealey protested the third tuition increase in three years, saying even a small increase this year could make the difference between being able to attend school or not.
“People have already been pushed out of this college because of tuition fee increases and they will continue to be pushed out because of tuition fee increases,” he said, noting college records that show enrollment dropped 6.7 per cent in the first year after the tuition freeze was lifted in 2001.
Cindy Wildeman, student association president and a board member, tried to have the board delay a decision until the college’s final budget is known in April.
It is unlikely the budget numbers the college has right now will change enough to offset the proposed increase, said CNC president Terry Weninger.
“I don’t hold out much hope that anything will happen this month, next month or any time this fiscal year that will change our situation,” he said.
The proposed increases to fees will contribute $100,000 to the bottom line.
The college went into the budget facing an $826,000 reduction in the operating grant it gets from the provincial government.
CNC has increased average fees by 35 per cent and 40 per cent in each of the last two years.
The latest increase brings academic fees to the provincial average of $1,077. Trades fees will also be at the provincial average of $66.90 per week.