Tuition fees for College of New Caledonia (CNC) students will increase by two per cent for the 2018-19 school year.
The move, approved by the college board of directors at its Nov. 24 board meeting, is drawing criticism from the Faculty Association (FA) of CNC.
FA president Bill Deutch is calling on the CNC board of directors to rescind its approval of the increase.
“This increase is requested annually as a direct response to continued cost pressures and is necessary to cover the college’s fixed costs,” a CNC response press release stated.
“CNC remains the second lowest tuition at a B.C. college for a full-time academic arts program student,” CNC president Henry Reiser wrote in the release.
At the Nov. 24 college board meeting, the board of directors received a recommendation from finance and corporate services vice-president Tara Szerencsi and Reiser recommending the board approve a two per cent increase of tuition and mandatory fees for courses or programs, starting Aug. 1, or later.
The report from Szerencsi and Reiser stated this increase will contribute “approximately $120,000 to the base operating budget.”
“The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training requires that colleges restrict tuition and mandatory fee increases to the rate of inflation, as provided by the ministry,” according to the report. “The rate of inflation to be used for 2018-19 fees is anticipated to be two per cent.”
In an interview, Reiser said the $120,000 generated by the tuition fee increase will be used to address increasing fixed costs at the college, as well as to help students.
“At CNC, the $120,000 will be spent to address rising costs and also will be allocated to student supports and bursaries for study abroad.”
The CNC president added the college looks to generate money to address rising costs in a number of ways, such as international education.
“What we do is we look at entrepreneurial activity like community and continuing education and also international education, and so our grant, if you wish, from government has not increased over a number of years and we are dealing with the increase in costs like faculty salaries by being entrepreneurial.”
Reiser told the Quesnel Observer CNC’s two per cent tuition increase is in line with the increase at other British Columbia colleges.
“If we do not increase our tuition, it’s very hard to convince government to increase our base funding we get from government.”
In a press release, Deutch wrote he is concerned that while over the last 15 years, “the CNC board has imposed ongoing tuition increases; it has not turned its attention to more reasonable fiscal alternatives.”
Instead, he stated the CNC board has allowed significant increases in the size of the college administration and approved extensive management salary increases.
Deutch wrote that, based on CNC’s own figures, the administration increased by 15 per cent between 2002 and 2016, while the faculty has decreased.
He claimed salary costs for the administration increased 50 per cent over 14 years and its total compensation increased by 65 per cent.
Reiser disagreed with with the faculty association’s numbers.
The total increase in administration staff between 2002 and 2016 has been six full-time and three part-time employees, according to Reiser.
He added the total increase in faculty staff between 2002 and 2016 is 16 full-time and a decrease of seven part-time faculty members.
According to Reiser, the total increase in salary costs for administration between 2002 and 2016 was $2,028,834, while the total increase in salary costs for faculty between 2002 and 2016 is $4,969,195.
“The total increase in compensation for administration – and [the faculty association] may be lumping operation staff into administration and that’s fine – is $12,069,000 for the college between 2002 and 2016.
“When we talk about those costs, this includes wages and benefits. So the statement that administration costs have gone up and faculty have decreased is false.”
While the faculty association has had policy opposed to tuition increases since 1982, Deutch’s press release stated faculty sees positive changes are already emerging with the new provincial government and would like to see a college board take the opportunity to “begin to re-build a comprehensive college that will once again make service to the communities of North Central B.C. its priority.”
Praising the recent elimination of tuition for adult basic education and English-language learning, the expansion of a tuition waiver for students formerly in care, and reducing student debt on loans and through a completion grant, Deutch wrote that he looks forward to other initiatives the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training is pushing forward through its mandate.
“It is time to rebuild CNC, it is also time to work with local business, industry and service partners in opening up co-op education opportunities for people in the region,” Deutch wrote.
“Community colleges are the central vehicle for building careers and helping to open up job opportunities, particularly in northern, resource-based regions.
“A CNC board needs to reconsider the primary purposes and goals of the college and look for other places in its budget to increase revenue or decrease spending.”
In a response to request for responses to Reiser comments on his cost figures, Deutch said he did not have the time to respond at this time.