Board approves tuition increase

Jun 13, 2002, vol. 24, no. 4

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SFU will raise standards by raising tuition fees: that's the message from the university's board of governors who voted late last month to increase fees by an average of 30 per cent.

In the six years since the previous provincial government froze tuition fees, revenue per student has dropped to $800 less than the national average, resulting in a steady decline in course availability and student services, and a significant increase in class size.

When the new government recently restored autonomy over tuition policy to universities, the board of governors sought to protect the quality and accessibility of education at SFU by implementing a three-year strategy to bring fees in line with the national average. Tuition fees as a percentage of total student cost will be 22 per cent - the same as it was immediately prior to the freeze.

To ensure that all deserving students have access to SFU, the board also voted to direct 25 per cent of the tuition increase toward student financial aid. “Student access and financial assistance are cornerstones of this tuition policy,” says SFU President Michael Stevenson. “Revenue problems over the past years have not allowed us to provide adequate financial aid to students who are academically qualified but economically disadvantaged. This is the first step to rectifying that.”

The board also moved to improve the overall quality of the student experience at SFU by approving increased fees for student services, athletics and recreation. For several years, SFU has spent less of its operating budget on student services than any other comprehensive university in Canada. The increased fees will support a number of new initiatives, including First Nations programming, student orientation services, and student counseling. They will also be used to eliminate some user fees and to assist sports clubs, intramural athletics, and varsity teams.

Before adopting the new fee structure, the board of governors consulted with staff, students, and faculty. However, a vocal group of student protestors twice blocked access to the scheduled board meeting, forcing chair Brandt Louie to convene an emergency closed session to deal with the motions on tuition policy. Says Louie: “I can sympathize with the concerns raised by the students, but the board has a responsibility to preserve the integrity of the university. Faced with a deficit of almost nine million dollars, we had little choice but to raise fees.”

For more detailed information about the motions passed by the board, as well as background papers, see:

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