Students at the local college can expect to pay a little more next year, but also to see an increase in student services.
The Selkirk College board of governors voted to approve new student fees at a meeting on Tuesday night. The board also agreed to start charging tuition for developmental education up to $1600 per semester for the spring and to raise regular tuition and existing student fees by the maximum allowed amount.
The board’s decision followed a presentation from Jijith Haridas, a student union board member, in which he reminded board members that some students are already paying as much as they can and asked the board to go back to the Ministry of Advanced Education for the needed funding instead of asking students to cover the costs.
“We know the ministry has been cutting the funding to the institutions over the years and it has always gone down over the years,” said Haridas. “But what we are requesting is that instead of passing on that burden to the students, let’s take this back to the ministry and let’s try to increase the funding rather than downloading it further to the students.”
The new fees are to cover the costs of student services, like disability support and counseling department staff. Additional staff are needed to help serve more students needing support.
“In line with the rest of Canada, the number of Selkirk College students with mental health challenges has increased significantly over the last five years (240 per cent),” the college explained in a press release.
The new fees will also go toward health and wellness projects that were piloted using one-time grants, expanding the co-op education and employment services’ online student job portal to Nelson, and the student ambassador program, which provides additional employment-related work experience for students.
With so many cuts being made by the ministry, including the $6.9 million it once provided to keep Adult Basic Education tuition free, the board said the only way it can continue to provide appropriate student services is to introduce new fees.
Now that the fees have been approved, the board of governors will need to ensure that students are getting their money’s worth.
“This is a specifically targeted fee for specific services, so we are expecting reporting back as to what new services have been introduced,” said Sharel Wallace, chair of the board. “We also would hope that if those services aren’t up to snuff, that the students would come back to us and let us know that their needs are not being met. Because we rely on them to let us know.”
The college will also need to make sure students are aware of the new services and the student union will be able to help with that.
Haridas from the student union said that he hopes some student services he knows have been cut will be able to be restored now, and it’s not the college he blames for burdening students with the cost.
“I know it’s nothing to do with the Selkirk College. It’s the Ministry of Advanced Education, which has been constantly cutting the fund and that has been impacting the students who are at the receiving end,” he said.