Selkirk College students protest proposed tuition increases

Students’ union says this year’s two-per-cent increase puts education out of reach for some

More than 1,000 students have signed a petition opposing the tuition increase. (File photo)

Students at Selkirk College are protesting planned tuition hikes at the school.

The students’ union has collected more than 1,100 names on a petition rejecting this year’s proposed tuition fees at the college. The group demonstrated against the increases at the school’s board of governors meeting on Tuesday.

“I am overwhelmed by how much support we’ve received for this campaign,” said Samson Boyer, a law and justice student and spokesperson for the Selkirk students’ union. “We’ve got more than half the student body who have signed on for this.”

The students say tuition fees have increased at Selkirk College every year for the last 16 years, outpacing all measures of the consumer price index, cost of living adjustment, standard wage scales and the provincial minimum wage.

The annual increase for domestic students is two per cent, a ceiling set by the provincial government more than a decade ago.

But for international students starting this year, the increase will be about nine per cent, which Boyer called “just insane.”

Boyer said the increase is another step in making post-secondary education increasingly unaffordable.

“For me and many other members of the law program, this will mean a $120 increase just for next year,” he said. “What it means for many is they’re going to be in more debt when they come out of school… For some it means not going to school at all.”

Keeping up with inflation

Selkirk’s president says the college has little choice but to increase tuition rates this year. Provincial grants only cover about two-thirds of the cost of a Canadian student’s education, says Angus Graeme.

He says the college hasn’t had a core funding increase in more than a decade, and the provincially mandated two per cent increase for domestic students keeps the school in sync with the rate of inflation.

“I think all of us would love to see tuition a lot less for our young people, but the province hasn’t raised our provincial grant in a decade,” says Graeme.

“Students need and want more services, they want a quality learning experience, they want a credential that makes a difference that gets them closer to where they want to be, and we have a difficult time every year trying to figure out the funding for that.”

Wages make up three-quarters of the college’s $56-million budget, so salaries remain a prime driver of cost increases.

Still affordable

Graeme says the international tuition rate hasn’t gone up in several years, so the college is actually playing catchup with the rest of the province.

“I don’t think the public wants us to be subsidizing international students, at this time anyway,” he says. “We have raised [tuition] to a point where we are slightly cheaper than the nearest competition, which is the College of the Rockies and Okanagan College, so we continue to be a very affordable international option for students.”

The alternative would be to cut programs or services, he says.

But Boyer says the students want to impress on the college’s board of governors that they really can’t afford the increase.

“The well-being of this region in the long run depends on accessible post-secondary education and public policy that reflects that priority” says Boyer. “It’s time to do the right thing for students, prospective students, their families, and the communities they live in.”

Graeme says he’s more than willing to get together with the students’ union to discuss other ways of easing the financial burden on students.

 

The college’s president says the two per cent increase is needed to meet inflationary costs. (File photo)

Just Posted

Glacier Gymnastics big winner in annual grant funding

Columbia Basin Trust doled out $1.4 million in grants to the regional organizations

Procter working to reopen community bakery

The Procter Community Society is fundraising upwards of $100,000 for the project

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

KAST receives $15,000 for inclusive programs at Nelson Tech Club

‘These programs will be a perfect introduction to using technology’

Nelson to send two musicians to provincial Festival of The Arts

Lucas Alexander and Nico Bucher will compete in Chilliwack later this month

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Most Read