Many Okanagan College students are disappointed it’s going to cost more to get their post-secondary education next year.
“That sucks, that’s not good, and we are already struggling with our finances,” said Rishabh Sethi, an international student in Penticton. “If they are going to increase this, it’s going to be really difficult for us to survive.”
The college’s Board of Governors has voted to increase domestic tuition by 2% and international tuition by 5%.
The post-secondary intuition is facing a $1.7 million budget shortfall.
The tuition fee increases will offset that by around $500,000.
The chairperson of the college board, Connie Denesiuk, said it wasn’t an easy decision but they weren’t left with many other options. “Funding isn’t keeping pace with the increases in benefits, wages and utilities. We know that costs continue to climb,” she said.
The annual cost of the full-time arts program will increase $65.28 to $3,342.54.
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Tuition for international students will increase by $618.00 to $12,360.
“All I’ve got is student loans. More debt is never a nice thing,” said domestic student Robert Gibb.
The Okanagan College Student’s Union wants some of those extra funds allocated towards mental health initiatives, including hiring more counsellors and bringing back an on-campus nurse.
“Last year there was a nurse that came off and on at certain points in time but now there is currently none and there are situations that arise where we need a nurse or we even need a doctor,” said Executive Chairperson Morgan Rogers.
Denesiuk said the student union’s proposal will be considered before the budget is finalized at the end of March.
“We are going to take a very close look at their suggestions and how we can work together with them in order to remove some of those pressures, maybe be more efficient in what we do, or maybe add resources to the area of mental health,” she said.
Meanwhile, students hope college directors will think twice before shouldering students with more debt next year.
“We can agree that international students in Canada make a revenue for them, and we are contributing to their future too, but if you’re going to keep increasing that, that’s going to backfire some day,” said Sethi.
The tuition increases take effect this fall.