St. Thomas University announces tuition hike coming this fall
The liberal arts university has raised tuition several times since 2013
St. Thomas University is increasing its tuition in the fall but the school says that should come as no surprise to its students.
Fees will climb by $367 per year for each domestic student taking a full-time course load, and $756 for full-time international students.
Director of communications Jeffrey Carleton said the Fredericton-based liberal arts university has raised its tuition several times since 2013 as part of a five-year deal with the provincial government.
The agreement was designed to bring the university's "significantly lower" tuition closer to the average provincial tuition — despite a tuition cap put in place by the former Alward government.
"It's been an agreement that's been now in place for five years and this is the fifth and final year," he said.
In September, a full-time arts student at the university will pay $6,643 for tuition and international students $14,503.
By comparison, undergraduate student fees at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton are $7,536 for domestic and $17,385 for international students.
Students will also notice an increase in their technology and facilities fees, which will increase by $50 to $150. A new $500 practicum fee will be introduced to recover some of the costs of managing practicums in the Schools of Education and Social Work.
University president Dawn Russell announced the tuition hikes in a statement released on Thursday.
Russell said the school forecast its budget at $29.5 million in revenues, but also expects a deficit of $445,000, which it hopes to shrink through "planned and prudent combination of expenditure reductions and revenue increases."
In 2015, the deficit was $1 million. The university also received a one per cent increase in operating grants from the province after two years of no funding increases, she said.
Despite the tuition hike, Russell said that after several years of declining student numbers, the university saw an increase in first-year enrolment of eight per cent in 2015 and three per cent in 2016.
"We may not be able to maintain such increases every year, though we hope to see overall enrolment numbers stabilize," she said.
Carleton added that enrolment numbers for international students have gone up at a comparable rate.
While tuition fees at St. Thomas are higher than they used to be, the university continues to attract foreign students because its rates are among the lowest in the Maritimes, and beat anywhere else in Canada, he said.
"We do recognize that nobody likes to pay more but at the same time, our costs are rising," he said.
"It's always a balance every year, for any university to try and come up with a combination of cost savings and some revenue increases that can bring you as close to a balanced budget as possible."
Carleton did not say whether the university plans to negotiate a new agreement with the province, should it want to continue the cap on tuition fees.
St. Thomas University's student union did not respond to a request for comment on this story.