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Students, College hold different opinions on freezing of tuition fees

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
February 26th, 2018

There are always two sides to every story.

Tuesday, at Selkirk College Campus in Castlegar, the students have planned a presentation for the Board of Governors to freeze tuition fee rates for the coming year.

“Tuition fees and student debt are at an all-time high in British Columbia,” said a Selkirk College Students’ Union press release Sunday.

“Students are signing a petition asking the Selkirk College Board of Governors to freeze tuition for the 2018-19 academic year for domestic students.

“According to a 2013 Bank of Montreal survey the average student in British Columbia graduates a four-year degree program with $35,000 thousand dollars of deb,” the release added.

“Since that time, tuition fees have increased each year without action from government to address mounting student debt.”

However, Selkirk President Angus Graeme says during an earlier interview with The Nelson Daily, the two percent tuition increase the College will be asking when it goes in front of the board is a must because freezing student costs would make it even tougher to operate the West Kootenay school.

“Most of our funding comes from the provincial government and tuition is one of the only other ways we can actually balance the budget in terms of our operation,” Graeme said.

Graeme added the provincial government has frozen funds allotted to post-secondary facilities in the province for years.

“So, all of our other costs are going up by two percent . . . salaries, cost of light and fuel, heat and all of running our operations,” he said.

“If our expense of the budget is going up by two percent, and the province doesn’t give us a two percent lift on their part of funding . . . we’re into a deficit situation.”

It’s no secret getting that degree to bolster the resume in the workplace is costing students more every year.

Selkirk College Students Union plan on staging a demonstration as well Tuesday.

“Higher tuition fees mean more debt for new graduates and less investment in the local economy,” Students spokesperson Santana Hernandez said in a January press release.

“Those dollars are better spent in the Kootenays than on student loans payments to Victoria and Ottawa.”

But while Selkirk students feel the College isn’t doing enough, Graeme disagrees.

He feels tuition is just one of the major financial obstacles affecting students.

Other costs should be looked at when assessing student debt.

“We talk to the students on a number of occasions and tuition is only a part of the reason that school is so expensive,” he said.

“Housing, cost of transportation — fuel — food, all of those things that we’re also trying to work at to minimize the costs for students.”

Graeme said the College is focusing on local housing and affordable housing initiatives as well as trying as much to provide textbooks at open source as opposed to those very expensive first and second year textbooks that saves a lot of money for students.

“These are some of the other things we’re trying to do make sure the students, that affordability is very important to us, but tuition is one of the lowest in the post-secondary system in the province,” Graeme said.

“So, we if we didn’t raise it by that consumer price index we’d have an even tougher time keeping the amount of money in the classrooms we need to.”

The Selkirk CollegeStudents’ Union represents over 2,000 students at Selkirk College.

Categories: Education

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