Students’ union unhappy with annual VIU tuition hike

NANAIMO – University offers balanced budget for 2015-16 school year.

Vancouver Island University’s students’ union is less than satisfied with the institution’s $137-million budget for 2015-16, says the union’s spokesman.

The budget invests heavily on faculty and staff, people the university says are crucial to meeting objectives and plans. Patrick Barbosa, union spokesman, said they are not enamoured with the provincially mandated two-per cent tuition hike, as it makes post-secondary education more cost prohibitive.

“This is just additional fees on top of an already dramatically increased fee from what students used to pay and it’s more than students can afford. For a lot of students, it’s incredibly challenging to go to school,” said Barbosa.

Barbosa said 80 per cent of new jobs require some level of post-secondary education and it is no longer optional. The union is against how the B.C. Liberal government is managing post-secondary education, he said.

Government funding accounts for less revenue for the university than student fees for the first time in university history. In the 1980s, the government funded about 80 per cent and in 2015-16, it is just over 40 per cent, said Barbosa.

According to the budget report, the university derives about 42 per cent of its revenue from local and international student tuition – close to 41 per cent comes from grants and contracts with the province. In addition, 74 per cent of the total budget will go to salaries and benefits.

The university said the budget reflects desire to provide and foster a creative community.

“In a time of fiscal restraint, the new budget will allow VIU to remain focused on supporting our exceptional faculty and staff and providing our students with innovative, relevant programming,” Allan Wiekenkamp, university board of governors’ chairman, said in a press release.