Following the end of the tuition freeze, Western will increase overall tuition fees four per cent next year.
Universities are permitted to raise total tuition as much as five per cent. Most Western undergraduate programs’ tuition will increase the maximum amount — 4.5 per cent in first-year and four per cent in upper years. Undergraduate Engineering, Law, and Dentistry will increase by the maximum allowable amount of eight per cent in first-year and four per cent in upper years. Graduate tuition will increase three per cent.
Despite the increases, VP-education Shane Gonsalves believes Western’s decision to raise tuition was reasonable considering the circumstances.
“[The administration was] fairly responsible in working within the framework that the government gave them,” he said. “What I would say though, is that the framework that the government gave them is not the most responsible framework.”
Gonsalves said the main problem with the new “capped” system of tuition is that no barriers exist to prevent tuition from rising five per cent every year. Because financial aid is not tied to the tuition increases, it is possible tuition will continue to climb while student financial support fails to increase at a similar rate.
Western Associate Professor of Education Rebecca Coulter agreed with Gonsalves’ assessment.
“One of the problems is that each year the increase is on the [previous year’s already increased fee],” Coulter said. “It goes up four or five per cent this year and then moves up [a similar rate] on the new tuition. It’s getting bigger and bigger; it’s increasing exponentially.”
Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Fred Longstaffe said Western is trying to combat this problem. Western has set aside an additional $250,000 for student financial aid next year.
Longstaffe also said this year’s model would be the starting point for next year’s tuition fees, though the final decision would be based on a number of factors including changes in government policy and input from deans and students. For now, he believes the four per cent increase is a reasonable number.
“The four per cent number... we think if we control our costs and are efficient and don’t get sloppy in how we manage the joint, that will be enough for us to maintain the current level of service to students and use new government funding coming in to do real things.”