A proposed tuition increase of $1,000 for the Foundation Year program was unanimously struck down Thursday by the Board of Governors at the University of King’s College.
The increase would have raised the school’s first-year tuition to $9,878.The national average, according to Statistics Canada, was $6,191 in the 2015/16 school year.
The proposed increase was a result the province’s last budget, which included deregulation of tuition for out-of-province and graduate students and a one-time tuition increase allowed at the university’s discretion.
It was thought that a higher tuition would help with financial struggles the university is facing due to decreased enrollment, which dropped from 972 students in 2015 to 883 this year.
Bill Lahey, was officially installed as King’s president on Thursday, says the board of governors voted against the proposed tuition “reset” because it would make recruitment more difficult and create more financial hardship for students.
“We can really see this as a success for the students’ movement,” says Aidan McNally, president of the King’s Students’ Union. The KSU, along with the Canadian Federation of Students, has been pushing hard for more accessible post-secondary education.
Lahey says his conversations with McNally and student demonstrations, including sidewalk slogans in chalk and student rallies, had an impact. The students’ actions also helped to speed up the decision and ensured it was not postponed.
McNally says students took time Thursday between classes to write messages in chalk on the pavement in front of the university’s main building, explaining how tuition fees affect them.
Some of the messages spoke of what students couldn’t afford, like healthy food, because of the cost of tuition, or their need to work two and sometimes three jobs while studying.
“Today we saw that student action works.”
Hannah MacDougall, a third-year contemporary studies and sociology student at King’s, said Thursday’s decision “kind of came out of the blue for a lot of people, but it’s fantastic.”
McNally hopes she and the Canadian Federation of Students can carry this momentum forward for the Nov. 2 Day of Action, when students hit the streets and march to protest high tuition fees.
“We can leverage our collective power and influence decision-makers to make free and accessible education a reality,” she says.