The King’s Student Union is petitioning the Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE) for information about how tuition hikes are to be implemented in universities across Nova Scotia. They say students aren’t given enough information on how the hikes are reached and what the criteria is for the rates. They say only the government and the university presidents have the full information.
The University of King’s College created a tuition committee in April 2015 to come up with a proposal for a tuition hike.That committee proposed a $1,000 hike over two years for the Foundation Year Program (FYP). The proposal was sent to provincial government.
Alex Bryant, the president of the KSU, wants to know what the criteria was for that $1,000, so he sent a letter to Minister Kelly Regan of the labour department on Nov. 9 formally asking for information given to university presidents on exactly how much they could increase tuition.
The Department of Labour says that increases should be in-line with similar programs across the province. The FYP program at King’s is the only one of its kind in the province. It’s also the most expensive first year program in the province.
In an email on Monday, Chrissy Matheson, a representative for the Department of Labour, said that any tuition increase is stressful.
“We are keeping a close eye on the proposed adjustments to ensure they are reasonable. For example, the adjustment has to be fair and in line with what other institutions are charging for similar programs,” said Matheson.
Bryant said that’s not clear enough.
“We can’t access that information [the proposed adjustments],” he said. “If Board members are being asked to approve proposals where the only argument in favour of the proposal is that ‘it’s in line with what other universities are doing,’ this is price fixing.”
“The Department of Labour and Advanced Education has a duty to allow students, faculty, and staff access to this information in order for institutional processes to play out in good faith,” said Bryant.
The KSU thinks it’s likely that Regan will reject their proposal for more information, but they’re waiting on her reply.
“Students are eager for clarification on how tuition fee resets will be reviewed, and what kind of input students can have in the process. We look forward to a prompt reply,” said Bryant.
Dalhousie student Andrea Pavez is one of those students. She says she agrees with what the KSU is doing.
“When people aren’t engaged and aren’t aware, then it gives governments and other institutional bodies a lot more freedom to make decisions without pushback,” she said. “One of the biggest problems is getting students engaged and to care about tuition.”
About the author
Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner is a freelance journalist based out of Halifax. He currently attends the University of King's College master of journalism...