Students at Dalhousie University say the school’s decision to hike tuition by three per cent this upcoming year is another example of the university not listening to their concerns.
Deep Saini, president and vice-chancellor of Dalhousie University, announced in an email to students and staff Wednesday morning that the Dalhousie Board of Governors approved the tuition hike.
Saini said the tuition hike is “necessary to maintain the high quality of our academic programming,” especially with the majority of its classes moving online in the fall semester.
Erica Seelemann, Dalhousie Student Union’s vice-president of academic and external, says she was “appalled” when she learned the news.
She feels the university’s decision to follow through with the tuition increase during the COVID-19 pandemic shows a lack of consideration for the financial issues that many students are facing.
“Instead of talking about ways that they will make the university more accessible for students, they are talking about the money they are going to take to keep going how they want to move forward,” she said.
Seelemann highlighted that moving classes online in the fall semester will result in a reduction of campus services that can be utilized. She noted that students in engineering, sciences, architecture and music will have to drastically change how they learn.
“Everywhere, every occupation, every organization almost in the world has had to make accommodations for this pandemic, but the university has not,” she said. “They’re sticking to their four-year plan of fee increases, which students weren’t OK with from the beginning.
“Forcing students to pay money that they don’t have to continue a degree they can’t afford doesn’t work.”
Some students, like Margaret Purkiss, expected the university to go the opposite direction.
“I was generally expecting a tuition decrease if anything,” she said. “I didn’t expect they would increase tuition, so shock was definitely my first reaction.”
Dalhousie declined an interview, but in a statement said its annual tuition increases are necessary to maintaining the high academic standards.
“We’re doubling financial aid bursary funding, adding an additional $3 million for domestic and international students who need financial support,” the statement reads.
“This financial assistance is above and beyond the scholarships, bursaries and other student assistance Dal offers every year, totaling more than $36 million.”
Dalhousie law student Leah Robertson says a tuition increase puts an undue burden on top of students and families already struggling during the pandemic.
“Dalhousie is increasing tuition at a time when students are struggling the most right now,” she said.
“Students had also had to fight for the government funding through CESB, so this is another burden that’s being placed on top of the many pressures both financial, emotional and mental that’s going on for students right now.”
Saint Mary’s university will also increase tuition by three per cent, while Mount Saint Vincent University told Global News it has yet to announce its fall tuition rates.