George Brown College increases tuition for domestic students as government grants fail to keep up with inflation
Students will again bear the brunt of slipping government funding as tuition for domestic students will be increased three per cent a year for the next two years, the maximum allowed under the provincial government’s tuition framework.
George Brown College’s (GBC) board of governors approved the tuition hike in their meeting on April 12.
In the past, the board approved tuition increases on a year-to-year basis but changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program means that the college has to tell students what the cost will be when they send out acceptance letters in February 2018.
“Those are provincial political decisions, not college decisions,” said Mark Nesbitt, GBC’s vice president of corporate services. “The province announces their grant framework and their tuition fee framework, together they don’t add up to quite covering the inflation in costs the college faces.”
The budget plan, which the board also approved at the April 12 meeting, noted that there has been a “slow erosion in the share of revenue from grants” that will fall from 40.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 39 per cent in 2017-18.
“I do understand from their perspective why they’re raising tuition because they need to get funding,” said Tiffany White, the Student Association’s director of education. “At the same time I know there are raises coming for the president and their executive members so you have to determine who’s actually benefiting from this—it’s not the students.”
Zenobio says he sent a memo about @GBCollege‘s executive compensation today and that it will be discussed at the private session.
— The Dialog (@DialogGBC) April 12, 2017
There will be no tuition increases for international students at GBC in 2017-18 as that is reviewed every two years and is not regulated by the government.
The budget plan notes that falling domestic student enrolment at GBC means the modest projected growth of 0.6 per cent will come entirely from attracting more international students to the college.
Nesbitt said that in fall of 2016 there were 3,875 international students enrolled at the college and in fall 2017 the college projects there will be 4,287 international students—a 10 per cent increase.
International students—who make up 15 per cent of GBC students—will pay $68 million, or 39 per cent, of all the tuition and student fees paid at the college in 2017-18.
“I love that international students are getting the opportunities, but they also pay three times the cost,” said White who added that she doesn’t like how colleges are using them to fill the budget gap.
In total, student tuition and fees make up 51 per cent of the college’s budgeted revenue next year.
The budget also allocates $8 million in spending for “strategic initiatives” including $4.29 million that is earmarked for upgrading IT infrastructure and systems at the college.
Nesbitt said that the money will be used to replace technology in classrooms and labs such as computers, projectors and SMART boards. It will also upgrade the “plumbing” of the computer systems in the college that is undergoing a major upgrade behind the scenes.
The budget projects a $4.59 million overall surplus and George Brown College is one of only two colleges in Ontario that have not failed any financial health indicators set by the government in the past six years.
“There wasn’t anything that was hugely discontinuous or a major change, it was steady-as-you-go planning,” said Nesbitt.