A recently proposed tuition hike at King’s has the students’ union doubting the future of the school and their voice in financial decisions.
A committee on student fees, formed at the beginning of the summer, has been tasked with making recommendations on tuition adjustments. The committee has been considering a $1,000 increase to the Foundation Year Programme.
Last spring, provincial legislation passed allowing Nova Scotia universities to adjust their fees once—either in 2016 or spread over the coming years. This increase would be on top of the government-capped annual three per cent hike.
Last Tuesday, the King’s community found out about this proposal in the form of a memo sent to the emails of staff and students. The memo was the first information released to the public.
“The first opportunity that (the Kings Students’ Union) had to talk about this was council this past Sunday,” says Alex Bryant, president of the KSU and student member on the committee.
“We did for a while but everyone was just incredibly upset. We thought it was an awful idea.”
While Bryant represents the student voice on the tuition committee, he says he has no faith in the other members listening to his input. This, he says, is frightening for those invested in the wellbeing of the school.
“In the past we (the KSU) have gone out of our way to inform students. We get (the committee members) into a room, we make very good arguments and then the committee members walk away and pass the same decision to the board and the board puts it through,” says Bryant.
King’s president George Cooper says student comments will be taken into account about the tuition hike.
“Absolutely no decisions have been made at this point,” says Cooper. “We will meet with students in formats that are appropriate.”
There’s also the question of whether the change would be detrimental to FYP itself. With the program’s enrolment already shrinking, Bryant feels the tuition increase will be “a medicine that’s worse than the disease.”
“When we charge more for this program, fewer students are going to come. [pullquote]We’re not going to get the best students, we’re going to get the wealthiest students,”[/pullquote] he says.
Cooper says the school will do their best to find financial help for those who truly can’t afford the program in form of bursaries.
“We are very conscious that some will find it difficult,” says Cooper. “Our aim is to ensure that no student should be disadvantaged. We will scramble to find the funds available.”
While the committee is asking for community advice to be submitted no later than Oct. 2, Bryant says he has already made proposals which he thinks are far better suited to the problem at hand.
“The only productive and sustainable thing we can do financially is increase government funding. That’s it,” says Bryant.
While controversy surrounds the proposed hike, Bryant says another suggestion of allowing students to pay per course for the one-year Bachelor of Journalism degree has been well received.
Cooper says he and the committee are waiting on Bryant to approach them with an idea for an appropriate forum for students. In the meantime, King’s community members are being encouraged to reach out to the committee with thoughts and advice.