U of S hiking tuition 4.8%, U of R told to be 'mindful' of increases

The University of Saskatchewan is hiking tuition by 4.8 per cent for students in the College of Arts and Science.

U of S had 2.5% tuition raise last year

The University of Saskatchewan is looking at a 4.8 tuition increase for students in the College of Arts and Science -- a department which makes up nearly half of the entire student body. (CBC)

Tuition is once again going up at the University of Saskatchewan as students in the College of Arts and Science are looking at a 4.8 per cent hike.

Students in the college will now pay about $300 more for a full course load as a result. The increase comes a year after tuition for all undergraduates was raised by 2.5 per cent. 

"We want to deal with putting caps on tuition over the next three to four years," said university provost Tony Vannelli.

Tuition caps would contribute to predictability and would give students an idea of what their budgets will look like over a longer period of time rather than dealing with increases each year, he added.

U of R told to be 'mindful' of tuition hikes

The University of Regina will release its budget in May, following the province's release of its spending plan.

In November 2017, a U of R budget document included an operations forecast that estimated it would require a 3.3 per cent increase in its provincial operating grant and a tuition increase of 2.5 per cent into the 2018-19 school year 

"Given the province's fiscal situation, an increase in our grant is unlikely, although the University's representatives are stating strongly that "We have done our share," the document read. 

Thomas Chase, the U of R's provost and vice president of academic said they have put tuition up in recent years—last year, it went up by 2.5 per cent in most departments—and have been meeting with ministry officials regularly. 

"There's been no request not to raise tuition, there's been a request to be very mindful of tuition increases and to be careful that we think through the impact of those increases on students and their families," he explained

'Painful' cut last year

Chase said the school does not want to raise tuition beyond "what is absolutely necessary" to balance its budget.

"If our other major funding source is in decline or is flat it becomes more and more difficult not to raise tuition and fees," he added.

Vannelli said he did not know if there would be further tuition increases after the provincial budget is released on April 10.

Last year's provincial budget saw cuts to university funding, which led to tuition increases for post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan. 

According to Chase, the U of R experienced a "painful cut" last year, which translated to about seven per cent of its operating budget. 

So far this year there has been no indication from the province as to what it intends to do, he said. 

"The universities took quite a hit last year and we believe that having taken that hit and moved forward despite it, we're hopeful that this year we will be treated a little bit more favourably," he said. 

Uncertainty a concern

While the tuition rates have been going up, the province's minimum wage has not and that plays a factor in students being able to afford the changes, Deena Kapacila said. (Rosalie Woloski/CBC)

The uncertainty is a concern for Deena Kapacila, vice president of operations and finance for the U of S Students' Union. 

"To increase tuition further than the 4.8 per cent kind of across the board that we've been seeing would be just devastating to students," Kapacila said. 

While the tuition rates have been going up, the province's minimum wage has not and that plays a factor in students being able to afford the changes, she added. 

The average student in arts and science, which makes almost half of the student body, will pay $7,065 for tuition in 2018-19, compared to $6,751 last year.

"I think students are realizing that maybe that Sask. advantage they keep hearing about isn't for them," Kapacila said.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning, Stephanie Taylor