Students enrolled in the Foundation Year Program at the University of King’s College are breathing a sigh of relief after learning their tuition will not be going up.
The university’s Board of Governors voted unanimously this week against a $1,000 fee increase, making King’s the only university in the province to reject a fee hike.
“I worked really hard this summer to actually pay for this tuition at all, so the fact that it’s not going to increase is kind of reassuring that I’m gonna be able to come to school next year,” said first-year student Taryn Neufelt.
“Students have been making their voices heard and made it so the King’s Board of Governors had no choice but to listen,” said Aidan McNally, President of the King’s Students’ Union.
Until last year, there was a three percent cap on tuition fee increases in Nova Scotia. That cap was temporarily removed in the 2015 provincial budget, leaving post-secondary institutions free to hike fees without a limit.
That decision has been met with harsh criticism, especially at the University at King’s College where students pay some of the highest fees in Canada.
Students have been campaigning for months against the proposed fee hike and see the Board of Governors decision as a victory.
“Students have been very vocal about this issue ever since it became a possibility,” said Bill Lahey, President of the University of King’s College.
“Their views about both how it might hurt the university’s efforts to recruit more students, which is a really big issue at King’s right now and their views on how the current level of tuition causes difficulties and in some cases hardships for our students, those were very influential views.”
Students say tuition is their number one barrier when attending school.
“It’s so expensive and it kind of affects everything that you do,” said Sophie Winer. “It’s like, is what I’m learning right now worth the money?”
Tuition for first year students may not be rising, but there are still other fee increases on the table.
“We still have hard decisions and hard discussions to have at King’s about incremental increases to tuition and there’s always discussions that have to take place about other fees, but we’ve put the tuition reset issue to bed,” said Lahey.
Students say they plan to participate in a National Day of Action next month to protest tuition fees at post-secondary institutions.
“We are taking the momentum from this victory and channeling it towards November 2, where students are calling on decision makers for free and accessible post-secondary education,” said McNally.