HALIFAX- It may have been a snow day at Dalhousie University, but that didn’t stop dozens of students from having their voices heard outside a board of governors meeting where tuition hikes were being debated.
Students held signs that read ‘reduce tuition fees’ and loudly chanted “education not compensation” outside of the meeting.
“They’re discussing the first draft of a report recommending massive tuition increases – the largest increases I’ve seen since I can remember,” John Hutton, Vice-President of the Dalhousie Student Union said.
Last spring, the provincial government lifted the tuition cap, allowing post-secondary institutions the option of implementing a one-time tuition hike.
It’s a move that Patrick Leclair, a third-year environmental engineering student, said will add to the massive student debt load.
“It’s come to the point where if you have enough money, if you can saddle enough debt and make it through and scrape by, you can hopefully get an education. I think that it should be about us getting educated and bettering our society and not about a few people making a lot of money,” he said.
The proposed budget recommends a three per cent hike across the board. Pharmacy, engineering and agriculture students would also be pay between five to six per cent more in additional fees on top of the general three percent increase.
“Some of these programs, that’s as much as $1,700 to $2,000 increases over three years,” Hutton said.
Dr. Carolyn Watters is the university’s provost and vice-president academic and said while the budget is still in the early draft stages, a lot of the proposed changes are just a part of doing business.
“It’s difficult for the students because it will be phased in over three years and their tuitions will go up; I think in engineering, about 10 per cent across a whole program,” Watters said. “But it has to be done I guess.”
She also added that a final decision won’t be made without plenty of expert input.
“Those three programs, engineering, agriculture and pharmacy – we will have a special one-on-one consultation about their fees (and) the impact it might have on them,” Watters said.
A final decision won’t be made until April, a timeline Leclair hopes will give the university a chance to change their recommendations.
“Loss of students and loss of income will hopefully scare them into realizing they have to do more for their students,” he said.