While we are very accustomed to reading about tuition fee increases for undergraduate students and the associated reactions to these increases, we are generally not made aware of the increasing cost of attending graduate school. I’m unsure of if this is due to a complacency and acceptance within graduate students or if this is related to a difference in public perception (Ah, well graduate students often receive funding and are employed by the university, we can pay them more …. etc.)
Even though it is often that case that per-semester tuition costs are lesser for graduate students, most graduate students are required to be registered full-time year-round. This results in average annual fees that are higher for grad students when compared to undergrads. While I think no one can argue that fact that university operating costs are continually increasing, the increases in both UG and Grad tuition fees are considerably higher than the rate of inflation in most provinces.
This is all further emphasised due to the fact that NSERC funding has stayed static for over a decade!
— David Barrett (@dcbarrett_) February 27, 2013
Decreasing normalised income and increasing fees is a recipe for financial difficulty and increased student debt. Is that really what is best for academia (and the country)?
This has all been highlighted for me recently as my current institution has agreed to raise graduate tuition costs by 10% for all students and have also increased the ‘international student levy’ by 25% for the upcoming academic year. And outside of a few discussions had over liquid barley, I have yet to hear a peep from fellow graduate students. Even more appalling is the reaction (or lack thereof) from our* students union which has made no specific comments on the 10% increase.
I am genuinely alarmed at complacency. Is this the norm at other institutions, or are there ways of increasing student awareness and engagement? With administrative salaries ballooning, even with major cost cutting measures in place, I fear the trend of significantly increasing tuition fees will become standard practice in Canadian post-secondary institutions.
*I should add that graduate students at my current institution are in the odd(?) situation of having no separate students union (URSU represents undergraduate and graduate students) and as such are often not well represented due to smaller student population.