“We are considering increasing graduate tuition by approximately 10 per cent per year for five years,” explained the school’s provost and vice-president, Tony Vannelli, in an email statement provided to Global News.
Historically, tuition for graduate students has increased by three per cent each year, according to the university.
The U15 refers to a group of 15 research universities across Canada, including the U of S, University of Alberta, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto.
According to a representative from the U of S, the current median U15 graduate tuition rate is $11,910 for a two-year program. They said tuition for U of S’s two-year graduate program is currently $8,520.
“It’s quite shocking, actually,” Prof. Michael Bradley said of the proposed increase.
“It’ll have a huge negative impact on our ability to do research in our laboratories because most of that research is done by graduate students.”
Bradley has been with the university since 2003. The professor of physics and engineering physics worries tuition increases will hit the university’s research department hard.
Students in scientific fields like Bradley’s typically get funding through research grants obtained by professors, he said, adding this funding is “not easy to get” and the amount students do get is “not high.”
“The students don’t have other sources of income typically, so it comes out of the funding that we provide them,” he explained.
With rising tuition, he said, he believes students will go elsewhere.
It’s something graduate student Kiera Mitchell is already considering. The history major was just accepted to the school’s PhD program in September, but with the impending strain on her wallet, she’s reconsidering.
“I’m really having to reconsider my career, everything that I have planned, the future… It was kind of devastating to receive the news.”
PhD candidate Tristan Tyler calls the proposed increase “insulting.”
“This is the first year I’m not working more than one job at the university, but I still make below the poverty line,” he said.
“Adding more tuition fees will lower my quality of life by literally taking money from my pocket.”
According to the school’s Graduate Students’ Association, while the 50 per cent increase over five years is bad for domestic graduate students, for international graduate students it’s even steeper with a proposed increase of 124 per cent over five years.
The association’s president Mery Mendoza said she’s already received several emails from students worried about what this means for their academic futures.
“The students are speaking up, and I would not be surprised if students are going on strike, because this is very concerning,” she said.
Mendoza said her association is trying to talk to the school’s administrators about the proposed increase. She plans to bring student’s concerns to the board of governors meeting March 23 and 24, where they will approve the planned increase.