The student union is protesting proposed new mandatory fees at Selkirk College.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23 the board of governors will meet to discuss the proposed new fees for the 2016-2017 academic year, and whether or not to adopt them. They can expect students and representatives of the student union to be there, protesting what they say is a violation of the Ministry of Advanced Education’s Tuition Limit Policy.
The policy set the annual cap at two per cent for tuition and mandatory fees in the 2015-2016 school year, based on the rate of inflation. The cap is expected to be set at a similar percentage this year. The increases proposed by Selkirk would raise both the tuition and existing fees by the maximum allowed amount, but would also introduce new mandatory fees, bringing the fee increase to 4.5 per cent.
“As the student union we fight for the students and what they need, what their rights are,” said Shane Feddersen, external director of the Selkirk College Students’ Union. “We find it very unreasonable that students are asked to pay for this, especially when they’re going around the government cap on tuition increase.”
But while the increase is more than two per cent, it is not a breach of the ministry’s policy.
“Public post-secondary institutions are expected to ensure programs and courses are affordable and accessible for students,” said Andrew Wilkinson, minister of advanced education, in a statement to Castlegar News.
“The Selkirk College Board is responsible for approving fees — both mandatory and tuition — at the institution, ensuring the cap on tuition increases of two percent annually.
“Institutions may introduce new mandatory fees for new services if there is a clear benefit to students.”
Selkirk says the new fees are to help pay for student services.
“We are suggesting to the board that we implement a student services fee to support the transitions to employment and student wellness initiatives,” explained Neil Coburn, vice-president of Selkirk College.
But the student union says the increase is too much, and is putting up a fight.
“At the school, we have pamphlets that people can come sign — students are signing them, community members can come sign them — that basically we’re taking to the board of governors when they have their meeting and we’re asking them to vote no,” said Feddersen.
He asks students to call the student union at 250-365-1303 and confirm that they’ll be attending the meeting in the Castlegar staff lounge at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 23.
Coburn also encourages students to attend the meeting.
“We invite students to come and if they wish to make a presentation at the February board meeting when the board votes on tuition,” he said.