Engineering, pharmacy and agriculture students at Dalhousie University better hope for some scholarships because it looks like costs are going up. Way up.
Thursday’s draft operating budget report from Dalhousie’s Budget Advisory Committee is recommending a three percent tuition increase for all Dalhousie University students, coupled with more drastic hikes of as much as 28 percent for engineering, pharmacy and agricultural students.
The extra monies, phased in over three years, offset the anticipated $2.3 million increase in provincial funding which Dal says “is not enough to cover the rising cost of running the university.”
“Together these increased costs total $15.1 million,” says Dalhousie’s news release. “Take out the $2.3 million in new provincial funding, and the Dalhousie budget has a gap of $12.8 million it needs to close, primarily with tuition and budget cuts.”
The committee is also recommending a 2.5 percent budget cut for all faculty and departmental units. All the recommendations still have to be approved by the Board of Governors.
The Dalhousie Student Union, which represents over 18,500 post-secondary students, isn’t too happy about the proposed changes.
“Dalhousie is shutting its doors to students of low and modest incomes when it should be trying to make education more affordable for everyone,” said John Hutton, academic and external DSU vice president in a press release. “The university has millions in cash reserves and yet is proposing students pay more and get less.”
Dalhousie has roughly eight million dollars currently sitting in reserve funds, but the university uses that primarily as a “risk-management tool” in case enrolment is lower next year than expected.
According to the DSU, a 24 percent increase in fees for engineering and pharmacy students works out to an additional $1,906 and $2,009, respectively. A 28 percent increase in fees for students at the Truro campus for agriculture students is an extra $1,782.
The jump in fees puts Dalhousie in the well-trodden path of other Nova Scotian universities that are taking advantage of the one-time “market adjustment” allowed by Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government in 2015’s budget. Saint Mary’s University has already proposed increasing tuition for all students by $1,520 over three years. The University of King’s College has likewise left open the possibility for a $1,000 tuition increase over the next three years.
But it’s not all cuts. The BAC is also recommending a one million dollar increase in facilities funding, as well as $500,000 towards new funding for IT infrastructure requirements. Half a million dollars is also earmarked for “developing strategies” for the department of arts and social sciences to “improve its financial sustainability in light of declining enrolment.”
The DSU is organizing a rally to oppose the fee hikes, to be held this Tuesday, February 9 at Dal’s Board of Governors meeting (2pm in the Student Union Building). The university will also be holding four information/consultation sessions for student feedback on the proposed changes, which will be taking place at the following times/locations:
Monday, February 22—12:30-1:30pm
Room MA 131, Morroy Building, 5269 Morris Street, Halifax
(On the Sexton Campus and engineering tuition budgets)
Tuesday, February 23—4-5pm
Room 257, Cox Institute, 21 Cox Road, Truro Campus
(On the general budget and agricultural tuition)
Wednesday, February 24—6:30pm
Room 307, Student Union Building, Halifax and live-streamed on YouTube
(On the general budget)
Thursday, February 25-12:30-1:30pm
Room 109, Burbridge Building, 5968 College Street, Halifax
(On the pharmacy budget)