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Free cake doesn’t make tuition hikes sweeter

Column by Mike Hodder.
Column by Mike Hodder.

Let them eat cake — and then charge them $290 for it.

Langara is celebrating 20 years as an independent public college today and there is no better way to party than with free food, and a tuition hike.

According to a Langara core review published in February, the college has the lowest combined tuition and operating grant among B.C.’s urban institutions. Currently, there is a two per cent cap annually on tuition, and the issue from Langara’s point of view is providing a quality of education that leads to success for its grads within its budget.

Langara’s income is significantly decreasing  

Provincial grants make 42 per cent of Langara’s revenue while student tuition and fees comprise 45 per cent. The 2014 provincial budget cut $51 million in funding to post-secondary institutions over the next three years, which will significantly decrease Langara’s income.

So the answer is . . . wait for it . . . raise tuition. Last year student tuition and fees made up just over $45 million of Langara’s $103,218,000 budget. This year that number will jump two per cent to more than $47 million.

Langara is wants a one-time exemption from the tuition cap to raise fees by $390 for 30 credits spanned over a two- to –three-year period, roughly a 14 per cent increase.

This increase may seem modest when considered over three years, but when you factor in Langara’s 10,000 full-time students, it works out to about $3.9 million per year. That’s a lot of cake.

Students’ pockets are about to get a little lighter 

Essentially, the government is cutting funding and students are footing the bill.

The Langara core review says that low tuition rates and provincial operating grants, combined with the tuition cap, diminish the schools ability to provide high quality programs.

Yet that same core review boasted a 2012-13 survey that found 95 per cent of students were satisfied with the quality of education they received, and 85 per cent of university transfer students went on to further study. It seems Langara is no stranger to doing more with less.

It’s no secret that many full-time students go heavily into debt while studying and I’d be willing to bet that most of them would rather have $390 in their pockets than some free cake, no matter how sweet it is.

Reported by Mike Hodder 

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