Dalhousie University proposed tuition hikes ‘will create a lot of mental stress’

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Dalhousie University proposes tuition hikes
WATCH ABOVE: Dalhousie University says an increase in funding from provincial grants is not enough to cover costs and it is contemplating faculty budget cuts and tuition hikes. Rebecca Lau has more – Feb 5, 2016

Dalhousie University says an increase in funding from provincial grants is not enough to cover costs and it is contemplating faculty budget cuts and tuition hikes.

In its draft operating budget, the university’s budget advisory committee recommended a 2.5 per cent reduction to all faculty budgets.

As well, the committee is proposing a three per cent tuition increase in all programs. On top of that, it’s recommending an increase of five per cent per year for engineering and pharmacy students, and a jump of 6.3 per cent for agriculture students.

READ MORE: Students call free-for-all on raising university tuition ‘insane’

For engineering students entering their final year in 2016-17, the increases would add up to $476.

“This will create a lot of mental stress on myself, on those who support me, my family and so on when it comes to funding,” said Yazan Khader, a third-year engineering student.

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“A lot of engineering students already pay so much in tuition and rely on student loans so I imagine this will have a huge impact on the future.”

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According to the university, the three per cent hike and additional adjustments would bring an additional $5.5 million to its budget.

Dalhousie isn’t the only post-secondary institution considering tuition increases. Last spring, the Nova Scotia government lifted the three per cent tuition cap, allowing universities and colleges to make a one-time tuition adjustment.

Since then, several schools have approved or are discussing tuition hikes.

“We saw a 37 per cent hike at NSCAD, $1,600 in [Saint Mary’s] Engineering, $1,000 fee increase at King’s. It’s all across the board,” said John Hutton, VP academic and external at Dalhousie Student Union.

In response, student groups and unions have held protests and sit-ins to protest both school administration and the provincial government.

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“Ultimately, the government has a responsibility to fund education. It’s a public service we all depend on. We need education to get good jobs,” Hutton said.

“The reality is they’ve been underfunding education for years under multiple different governments.”

READ MORE: Protests continue over changes in new Nova Scotia budget

According to Dalhousie’s budget advisory committee, 90 per cent of its operating funds come from government funding and tuition.

The bulk of that funding is from government grants. The university is expecting an increase from the province of $2.3 million this year, but says it’s not enough to cover its costs.

“I don’t know if anyone would suggest that government of Nova Scotia isn’t paying enough towards universities. We’re carrying the bulk of it,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.

“So the reality of it is, [universities] are making choices. They need to make sure the choices they make, they can afford to cover. They just can’t keep going back to students.”

Dalhousie’s budget advisory committee is holding information sessions between Feb. 22 and Feb. 25 to gather feedback from faculty, staff and students on the recommendations.

Meanwhile, the student union is planning a rally to protest the fee hikes at the next Board of Governors meeting next Tuesday.


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