Okanagan College is implementing tuition fees for domestic students taking upgrading courses, but government and college financial aid will mean many of those students won’t be out of pocket to pay.
The decision comes in the wake of a 2014 change in provincial direction to charge fees for upgrading and English as a second language (ESL) at post-secondary institutions. The college has decided to implement the tuition fee schedule for domestic adult basic education (ABE) and ESL programs.
Accompanying the tuition fee schedule, the board also chose to implement a college bursary program that will supplement the province’s adult upgrading grant (AUG). As a result, students taking fundamental and intermediate level ABE and ESL courses can get their tuition covered if they apply for the financial aid. Students taking advanced and provincial level ABE and ESL courses will still be eligible for financial aid but income thresholds will come into play.
The tuition fees will come into effect in May. Domestic students taking any level of ABE or ESL courses between May and September will be eligible for full tuition support, and the income thresholds for students taking advanced and provincial level courses will come into effect for the fall semester.
“We are doing what we can to minimize barriers for students who need upgrading courses,” said Roy Daykin, the college’s vice-president of finance.
“While the college needs the tuition revenue from these programs to offset the loss of provincial grants, we also respect the need to give students access to the courses they require to move ahead in their career and education plans.”
Cost of the courses varies according to the number of instructional hours involved. Tuition for an 80-hour course over a semester would be $400. A maximum tuition has been established – $1,600 per semester for a full-time student, as per provincial policy.