© Guardian photo by Jim Day
UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz makes his way across campus in this Guardian file photo.
UPEI students will once again be hit with a tuition hike when they return to class in the fall.
As part of its 2014-15 budget, Prince Edward Island’s only university announced that undergraduate tuition would rise by 3 per cent.
This increase represents $16 per course or $160 per year for a student taking a full course load.
International student fees will also increase by 3 per cent.
Last year, the university hiked tuition by 4 per cent.
UPEI Student Union President Anastasia Smallwood said while the student union is pleased there are no program or staff cuts or increases in student fees, they cannot support a tuition hike.
“While the student union cannot support a tuition increase, we understand that the university faces a number of budgetary pressures as do other post-secondary institutions across the country,” Smallwood said in an email.
“We do appreciate being included in discussions about the budget and are pleased that the budget does not include any cuts to core student programs and services, or any increases to ancillary student fees, such as the athletics and administration fees.”
The UPEI Board of Governors budget approved at its April meeting is balanced.
The board’s approval is the last step in a process that began last August when UPEI’s president and vice-chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz began planning earlier than in previous years, in order to give the campus more time to develop the budget proposal.
“While the student union cannot support a tuition increase, we understand that the university faces a number of budgetary pressures as do other post-secondary institutions across the country,” UPEI Student Union President Anastasia Smallwood
Abd-El-Aziz said the university’s approach was to look at ways to increase revenues while reducing expenditure budgets.
The principal sources of funding are the provincial government operating grant and student tuition.
“We appreciate that post-secondary education continues to be a priority for the government of P.E.I.,” said Abd-El-Aziz.
“The provincial government core operating grant constituted 50 per cent of total UPEI revenue in 2013–14.”
In the latest provincial budget, UPEI’s operating grant stayed the same.
Throughout the budget process, administrators across campus worked to minimize the impact on UPEI’s most valuable resource—people—by reducing non-salary expenditures as much as possible.
“While the proportion of the operating budget allocated to salaries and benefits remains high at 72 per cent, UPEI was able to prevent layoffs through vacancy management and attrition,” the UPEI president said.
The university did not say how many positions may be eliminated through vacancy management and attrition.