Students will pay over half of the college’s operating costs next year
On April 8, George Brown College’s (GBC) board of governors approved a new budget for the entire college. Something that affects all of us as part of GBC’s community, the budget will be put into effect for the 2015-2016 school year.
The biggest item that will impact students directly, no doubt, is the increased tuition fees for domestic students.
Domestic students need to be aware that tuition will increase by three percent for most programs and up to five per cent for some degree or “high demand” programs. However, international students will not face any tuition increases this upcoming year.
“It shouldn’t have been raised,” says Jatinder Maan, the Student Association’s director of education and equity. “Students are already struggling very hard to pay their tuition in order to attend college and the province of Ontario already has the highest tuition fees in Canada.”
It should be understood that revenue is split between student tuition and provincial grants. Students will pay for 50.3 per cent of total revenue for the college while the government pays 39.9 per cent. The increase comes in part from ministry guidelines that caps tuition.
Karen Thomson, GBC’s vice-president of marketing and strategic enrolment management, elaborates on funding saying,
“What we want is to create a learning experience where graduates will be greatly in demand by employers. We’re also in the fourth year of a five-year funding framework from the MTCU (Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities). The cap given is three per cent, and our mandate is to ensure that finances are not going to be a barrier to education. We’ve also had as high as 10 per cent increases in our history.”
Maan says that it’s a question of priorities, that the college could freeze tuition and find the money to better serve student interests elsewhere.
“We know that across the sector senior administrations have very high salaries and that they often spend money that is not student focused,” says Maan. “We would love to work with the administration to create an alternative budget that doesn’t require tuition fee increases.”
According to data from the Public Sector Salary Disclosure List, GBC’s 20-top senior managers made a combined $3.7 million in 2014.
The school will also see a hiring increase in its teaching staff, opening 15 new full-time positions beginning in September. One for game design, seven in business, two for IT, three in construction and three in the centre for hospitality. There are also five replacement positions that will be announced moving forward.
Two-thirds of GBC’s operating costs revolve around labour, totalling $194.7 million. This number shows a five per cent increase from last year, which comes largely from collective bargaining agreements.
“The budget doesn’t help in regards to what we get, and it’s not always about the amount of money. It’s also about having a slew of teachers who are here part time,” says Tom Tomassi, the faculty union president at George Brown. “This makes it more and more difficult to actually help the students who need help. We can’t really do that if they’re working somewhere else.”
Parents should also be aware of a four per cent increase in childcare fees. For infants the fees will be $2069; for toddlers $1881; families with preschoolers and kindergarten will be paying $1443, and for school-aged children the fees will be $862.
While the budget meets the projected costs for running the college, it also means students will have to pay more for a more relevant learning experience.