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News Release

Vancouver Island University

28 February 2002

After six years of a tuition fee freeze and, at the same time, rising expenditures over which the institution has little control, Vancouver Island University is planning significant tuition fee increases in order to prevent massive cuts to programs and courses, and to maintain quality and services for students.

To maintain access to post-secondary education, Malaspina is also planning to provide financial assistance for deserving students in most financial need, and to restore on-campus student employment programs.

"I fully understand why many students would have liked Malaspina to maintain a tuition freeze forever, but that's not realistic," said Rich Johnston, president of Vancouver Island University.

"After many years of tight budgets and, at the same time, exploding demand for our programs and services, we have to look to students to share a portion of the full cost of post-secondary education.  We'll also have to find a way to provide financial assistance to deserving students, and to replace the on-campus student employment and matching bursary programs that were cut by government on January 17th," he said.

Malaspina last raised tuition fees in 1995 and, like other B.C. post-secondary institutions, got caught unexpectedly in the government's tuition fee freeze, six years ago.

Some institutions were already charging higher fees before the freeze, while institutions like Malaspina were disadvantaged with fees in the mid range of rates charged by post-secondary institutions throughout the province.

Net revenues from international education and business contract activities were used to augment Malaspina's operating budgets but, in light of the global economy, Johnston does not expect these levels of activity to be increased.

"During the funding freeze, Malaspina moved from being more of a community college to being more like a university, due to rapidly increasing demands for university degree programs. The challenge now is to maintain the range and quality of instructional offerings, research, and services in a period of funding volatility.  Therefore, turning to students for a larger contribution through fees for the first time in six years is crucial to meeting that challenge," said Johnston.

"Malaspina needs to increase fees that will put the University in tuition territory between the community colleges on the one hand, and technology institutes and undergraduate universities on the other.  At the same time, Malaspina remains committed to offering quality programs and services at tuition levels that are below those of UVic, UBC and SFU," he said.

The government has recently lifted the tuition freeze and signaled that it expects institutions, in future, to get a higher proportion of their total operating budget through tuition fees.

At the moment, student tuition fees constitute 12% of Malaspina's total operating budget.

While tuition fees at B.C.'s post-secondary institutions have been frozen since 1995, tuition at other universities across Canada has risen to the point where B.C.'s fees are the lowest in Canada next to Quebec's.

Presently, the average tuition charged by Canadian universities is $3,417 per year.  Average fees at B.C.'s universities are $2,282, and they are expected to increase by about 30% next year.

At Malaspina, fees for students in first and second year courses are $1,200 per year, while fees for third and fourth year courses are $1,800 per year.  Students in vocational programs pay $ 1,241 for 10-month programs.  Students in high school upgrading courses have been exempted from paying tuition fees since 1998, as part of the previous government's strategy to increase access for students.

"Being able to take a good quality education close to home, even with higher tuition fees, is cheaper overall than having to leave the region to get this education because the largest cost of getting an education is accommodations, transportation and living costs.

"I will be recommending to our Board that we increase fees to $79 per credit for academic courses and $237 per month for our vocational programs, in the next fiscal year.  This will be about $2,370 per year (10 courses) for first to fourth year full-time academic programs and $2,370 for 10-month vocational programs," said Johnston.

The proposed tuition level will include laboratory and materials fees previously charged separately for some courses.

The Ministry of Advanced Education is maintaining tuition-free access for students upgrading high school subjects.

Malaspina's operating budget is expected to be short $5.9-million for 2002/03 and, by legislation, post-secondary institutions are required to produce a balanced budget at the beginning of the fiscal year that starts April 1.

Johnston hopes to receive word on Malaspina's operating grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education in the next two weeks.

"We will finalize our tuition proposal once we get our budget letter from the Ministry of Advanced Education," Johnston said.

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SIDEBAR INFORMATION

2000/01 Tuition fees at Canadian post-secondary institutions considered Malaspina's peers:

University College of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia:  $ 4,070

Laurentian University, Ontario:  $ 3,951

Nipissing University, Ontario:  $ 3,720

Brandon University, Manitoba:  $ 2,730

Lethbridge University, Alberta:  $ 3,370

University of Northern British Columbia:  $ 2,258

British Columbia Institute of Technology:  $2,336

The highest fees are charged by Acadia University, Nova Scotia:  $5,805