BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
New Brunswick students cannot afford tuition increases, says student Nate Gavin.
The looming threat of tuition hikes is leaving many students worried across the province.
Gavin is a second year student at St. Thomas University, where tuition currently sits at $4,945. Last year, tuition at St. Thomas increased by $175 and by $200 the year before that.
Now, universities in the province want to go to the provincial government and ask to increase the tuition augmentation cap currently set at $201.75. If the universities are successful in their bid, they will be able to increase their tuition by a higher amount each year.
“I have a hard enough time paying my tuition and living costs as it is,” says Gavin, who hails from Buctouche, New Brunswick. He is attending university without any support from his parents.
Gavin has student loans and has been working part time since he was 13 years old in order to attend university.
“Bringing it[tuition] up another $300 or $400 is not going to help me at all.”
Gavin is one of many students across the province who are worrying about how they will make ends meet if the cost of education continues to go up.
“The tuition rise is not going to affect me whatsoever. It’s not like I’m going to get anything more out of it [education],” says Gavin, who believes the student strikes in Quebec have set a precedent for the rest of Canada.
Undergraduate tuition costs in the province has seen a dramatic increase in the past 23 years. In 1990, the average rate of tuition in New Brunswick was $1,925.
“If we don’t get our there and make our opinions known, nobody else is going to,” says Gavin. “The professors aren’t going to go out there for us. There is nobody standing up for us right now.”
Second year economics and business major Sebastian Bustamante agrees that tuition increases will not be good for students.
“I think it’s going to effect the education of New Brunswick,” says Bustamante, an international student from Quito, Ecuador.
“I was told that the university has really low funding, so it’s understandable for them to want to increase tuition,” says Bustamante, who also sits on St. Thomas University’s Student’s Union.
“I think this issue should be addressed more from a subsidy from the government so education can flourish in New Brunswick and the province itself can increase production and income levels and people will actually stay here.”
Bustamante has had problems with paying his tuition in the past. This year, when he arrived at school, he was informed that his international student tuition had unexpectedly increased by $500.
“When you come here, you already have a budget planned. They don’t tell you how much it [tuition] is going to increase by, so it affects your lifestyle a lot. You may have used that money for groceries,” says Bustamante, who receives little financial support from his parents while away in Canada. He struggles with having enough money for food at the end of the semester, and is forced to rely on friends or not eat at all.
St. Thomas University’s international tuition currently sits at $12,855, a drastic increase from $3,653 in 1990.
Bustamante says he chose to leave Ecuador, a third world country, because he wanted to study abroad. He was attracted to St. Thomas and New Brunswick because of the low tuition fees in contrast to the United States, where international students pay upwards of $60,000 a year.
“I don’t understand why people haven’t addressed this issue before. I don’t know if it’s morally wrong or unethical but in a way it’s cheating,” says Bustamante.
“It doesn’t lead to any prosperity or any benefits. If a province or a country wants to succeed, they need to focus on their education.”