Rising tuition fees have students at a disadvantage

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With a 3.3 per cent increase in tuition over the course of this academic year alone, it is clear that tuition costs are on the rise — and increasingly quickly. While universities claim these fees are necessary to provide better services and supports for students, the stress these rising costs place on students seems extreme.

Tuition fees have seen an increase over the past decade due to the increased need for resources and supports that are offered to Brock students, faculty and staff. Over the past 20 years, Brock has seen a 270 per cent increase of full time undergraduate students. Due to the significant growth of the undergraduate student population alone, there is an increasing demand for student needs and services. However, some argue that increased enrollment should result in greater tuition revenue to support these endeavours without the need for rising rates.

In 2009, a first-year student entering Brock was estimated to spend, on average, between $5,625 and $6,175 for tuition. This fee was not inclusive of textbooks, residence, meal plans/food or transportation. When looking at the total average cost to attend Brock, after all the necessities that come with living in residence it was estimated that a first year student would spend an average of $16,405.

Now, a first-year student entering Brock in the 2019 school year is estimated to spend, on average, between $6,766 and $9,253 on tuition alone. When looking at the total average cost to attend Brock while living on campus, it is estimated that a first year student would spend approximately $21,259.50.

Tuition fees, according to Brock University are approved by the university’s Board of Trustees, and must follow the tuition policy that is set by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Tuition is assessed each term by differentiated rates that take into account an individual’s status as either a first-year or returning student, field of study, and enrolment in professional undergraduate programs, as well as their status as either a domestic or international student. The rate each student is charged depends on these factors.

Undergraduate students at Brock that obtain a credit load of 4.0 or more for the duration of the fall and winter term are expected to pay a flat tuition fee. At Brock, the assessment system can either apply this flat-rate fee or a per-credit fee, depending on number of courses taken. Tuition fees for all universities are dependent on the variety of degrees offered and the number of students enrolled in each program

International tuition fees have also seen a significant increase over the past decade. In 2009, a first-year international student entering Brock was estimated to spend, on average, $14,775. Included in the tuition fee of international students was a $756 University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP), which was mandatory for every incoming international student.

Fast forward, again, 10 years and a first-year international student entering Brock was estimated to spend between $25,293 and $26,443 on average. This is a significant increase in tuition fees compared to domestic students attending Brock in their first year.

Ultimately, increasing tuition benefits the university as a business but can have a negative impact on students due to the increased stress and work-load that this may cause. It also risks alienating students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

By increasing the tuition fees, Brock is able to provide students with adequate services and an increased amount of funds in order to update the university and class sizes to create an optimized learning environment for students. While those resources are important, ensuring university is accessible is also crucial.

Education should ultimately be affordable for every individual and achieving that starts with decreased tuition rates. Although changing the tuition rate is far out of students’ reach, advocating for rates that are able to benefit the university as well as the students is what will see the most success for both parties.

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