Mount Allison University is proposing to increase tuition next year by four per cent, or $300, for Canadian students who aren’t from New Brunswick and two per cent, or $150, for those who are from the province. International students would also pay two per cent or $328 more next year.
During a draft budget presentation today, Robert Inglis, the university’s vice-president of finance, said the increases are needed to balance the $45 million budget at a time when the provincial government has frozen its operating grant for the second year in a row and student enrolment continues to decline.
“It’s been a long road to this budget,” Inglis told his audience of about 25 in the Wu auditorium. “In my 16 years of working on budgets, this is the toughest one.”
He also described the budget as “consequential” because it will mean reductions in some staff positions, a freeze on hiring tenure-track professors and cuts to the money allocated for renovations, equipment and computing services.
“We had no tuition increase last year,” Inglis said in an interview after his presentation, but he added that costs are continuing to rise.
“So those costs need to be funded and it is reasonable that each generation of students pays for the programs that they enjoy while they are at Mount Allison.”
Under the proposed budget, New Brunswick students would be charged the four per cent tuition fee increase that other Canadian students pay, but would receive a $150 rebate making their net increase only two per cent in line with the provincial cap on tuition fee increases.
Three out-of-province students in Gracie’s Cafe reacted to the news by expressing frustration.
“We’re already struggling to pay for all those fees,” said Emily van Diepen, a biology student from Prince Edward Island who’s in her 5th year at Mt. A. “It’s kind of frustrating because we already spend so much on tuition.”
Mackenzie Lalonde, a 4th year commerce student from Ontario, said the four per cent tuition increase will add to interest payments on her student debt. “It means I’ll just have to pay more in the future, so once again, that’s frustrating.”
“Even though it’s only $300,” said 3rd year biology student Jenn Dillon, who is also from PEI, “I guess it’s an easy way to get money by raising tuition because you gain $300 from a lot of students that we pretty much have an obligation to pay.”
Meantime, Robert Inglis, cautioned this is a draft budget that will need final approval from the university’s Board of Regents in May.
2016/17 draft budget numbers
Total operating budget: $45 million with about $20 million coming from the province and $20 million from tuition fees.
This year Mt. A. tuition fees for all Canadian students were $7,464 while international students paid $16,421.
Last tuition fee increase of 3% was two years ago in the 2014/15 academic year.
Projected student enrolment next year is 2,160, a drop of 300 (more than 10%) over the last 4 years.
Projected number of students in residence next year is 896 compared with 933 this year.
Thanks to healthy endowment funds there will be a $441,000 increase in those funds available for academic departments next year.