College tuition frozen

A chill has been placed on tuition at Okanagan College.

OC board members have decided to freeze course fees that are more than 10 per cent above the average for similar programs at other institutions.

“It’s welcome news for us,” said Eric Reist, general manager of the Kalamalka Campus Students Association.

In fact, the association had recommended that the college take that course of action when developing its 2011/12 budget.

“Some program areas are substantially higher (than other institutions) so we need to bring them in line,” said Reist.

“They have tackled financial constraints in a prudent fashion.”

Tuition will remain steady for about 70 per cent of OC students.

Programs where tuition will remain the same include the associate of arts degree program (about $3,078 annually), the associate of science degree program (about $3,298 annually), the bachelor of business administration (about $3,880 annually) and the aircraft maintenance engineer M-license program (about $7,334).

For courses not impacted by the freeze, tuition will be linked to the cost of living.

“The provincial policy is two per cent for inflation,” said Allan Coyle, OC’s public affairs director.

“It’s now $3,300 for the therapist assistant program and it will go up $66 for a year. The apprentice carpentry program is currently $563 for six weeks and it will go up $11.”

Even with the board’s actions, Coyle admits that paying tuition can be a challenge for students.

“The board is conscious of the impact as it’s trying to ensure the institution has the resources to provide the education students expect,” he said.

While not ideal, Reist believes a tuition increase may be better than  the alternatives.

“The last thing students want is a cut in programs and services they need or want,” he said.

“Our preference is the federal and provincial governments funded education more appropriately than they are.”

The new tuition model is being protested by the Okanagan College Students Union, which represents students in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and Penticton.

“The decision leaves many students facing yet another tuition fee increase simply because their programs are not 10 per cent above the provincial average,” said Cory Nelmes, OCSU representative, in a release.

“Tuition fees at Okanagan College continue to threaten accessibility to post-secondary education across the Okanagan-Shuswap region.”



Vernon Morning Star