Tuition rising again at North Island College

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

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

As it did last year, the college’s Board of Governors approved a two-per-cent hike for domestic tuition and fees at its Wednesday meeting.

The increase goes into effect Aug. 15, and is the maximum allowable increase amount for 2013/14 as per the Ministry of Advanced Education.

“It was difficult for the board,” Susan Auchterlonie, NIC director of college and community relations said Thursday. “It is very much with a heavy heart, and as the board chair (Bruce Calder) said, the college is really in between a rock and a hard place on this; they understand the students’ objections (to raising tuition and fees) and are sympathetic, very, very sympathetic, you know, but it’s just the fiscal reality that the college faces.”

According to a report in the meeting agenda, the college faces more cost pressures each year due to inflation, but does not receive more money in its base operating grant from government.

“Based on the provincial budget tabled on Feb. 19, it is likely there will be a decrease in our base operating grant for F13/14,” the report goes on to say. “An increase of two per cent in tuition would result in an estimated $70,000 more tuition revenue for programs covered by the Domestic Tuition and Fee Bylaw.”

According to Auchterlonie, two board members opposed the increase; the two student representatives on the board, Jacelyn Lobay and Savannah McKenzie.

McKenzie said Thursday she is “very disappointed” the board approved the increase.

“Every time they raise the tuitions they are putting more and more of the costs on the backs of students, which is really disappointing,” she said.

McKenzie outlined her struggles to pay tuition in a written version of the verbal statement she made to the board Wednesday.

“The debt that I am accumulating from being in school is coming to the point that I almost regret starting,” wrote McKenzie. “This year my tuition was paid for by the life insurance of my grandmother Helen, I have to say, this is not the way I want to avoid student debt. I should not have to rely on the insurance policies of my loved ones to pay for my education.

“The money I received  was only enough to pay for my tuition. It didn’t eliminate my $16,000 student loan, my need to work, my living pay cheque to pay cheque. Having to choose between nutritious food, or paying my rent is an awful choice to make.”

Auchterlonie said Lobay and McKenzie spoke “very eloquently” against the increase, noting their statements were “heartfelt.”

“But as our board chair noted, the college is in a real difficult position,” continued Auchterlonie. “Funding is not being increased, we have to provide a balanced budget and we’re not get any additional funding for inflationary costs, etc., so this is really one of the only ways that we have revenue available to the college to meet those additional costs.”

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com