UPEI's board of governors approved a four per cent tuition increase Thursday night as part of its efforts to deal with a $9 million deficit.

University president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz said the tuition increase helped the university write a balanced budget. The tuition hike is expected to increase UPEI's revenues by around $600,000 next year.

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UPEI was able to balance its budget with the tuition increase, says university president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz. (CBC)

There are spending cuts in the budget as well, but no details of those are yet available. Abd-El-Aziz said job cuts can't be avoided given that three quarters of the university's expenses are salaries and benefits.

"We're not talking about numbers. Those are my colleagues. Those are my friends. Those are my neighbours," he said.

"I think differently when it comes to job reductions. I have to make sure that if I can avoid losing one job I will go the extra mile to do that."

Abd-El-Aziz said the administration will work hard over the next two to three weeks to keep job reductions to a minimum.

The tuition increase means each course a student takes will now cost $21 more. Despite the increase in tuition, student fees will remain amongst the lowest in Atlantic Canada.

Student union president Anatasia Smallwood said while no one likes to see tuition go up, she understands the difficulty the university is in.   "I think that a four per cent increase is reasonable for the times that the university is facing," said Smallwood.

"At the meeting there was discussion of having a $100 per course increase, which was one of the proposed solutions by a member of the faculty, which is completely unreasonable. So I think in comparison to that a four per cent increase is not at as bad as it could have been."

The UPEI Faculty Association declined to comment.