The University of Regina will be increasing its tuition for 2022-23 by 3.5 per cent.
The increases come after the U of R Board of Governors approved the 2022-23 operating budget, which projects $245.3 million in revenue and $245.3 million in expenses resulting in a shortfall of $3.5 million.
Dave Button, the vice-president of administration for the University of Regina, said that it was a needed increase after two years of reduced enrollment and no tuition increases.
“I think people appreciate a good quality project. We want to make sure that we get that right balance of good quality education, as opposed to the cheapest education possible,” he said. “It’s expensive enough already going to University, and we want to make sure that they are at least getting a good product.”
Button said that they cut some operating costs to try and limit the tuition increase.
“There are a number of different things that we don’t really like to do. We made substantial cuts in operating costs across the entire University. We reduced by almost five million dollars or 2.7 per cent of all unit operation budgets to take and get some efficiencies.”
Navjot Kaur, the president of the University of Regina’s Student Union, said that with the already increased cost of living, students are focusing more on paying for tuition than their education.
“The cost of living continues to increase, and there is a lack of affordable housing in Regina already, and then there is an additional financial burden on students,” she said. “Their minds are now busier on collecting the money for tuition fees along with their daily expenses.”
“The increased financial burden creates a lot of stress. This is not good for mental and physical health. Students come to an institution for education, not to be a burden of finances,” she said.
As for the shortfall, Button said they had seen a significant decrease in enrollment since the start of the pandemic.
“It comes entirely from the fact our enrollment numbers are down substantially. They went down the first year of COVID and came down again the second year of COVID, and they are at risk right now with COVID hanging around.”
Button said that he hopes that they can see enrollment start to bounce back, not only for the University but also for students.
“Last year we got an unexpected decrease. We knew that we would have some, so we had built a decrease into our budget, but it actually decreased by six per cent in both international students and domestic students,” he said. “We have built this budget assuming that we will get that bounce back, get that six per cent increase in students back, that won’t get us back to the pre-COVID levels; we know that will take just a little bit longer.”
He said that if they see an enrollment jump, it could lead to a tuition decrease.
“If we can get enrollment up, that’s the biggest impact to our budget of anything. If we can get to a point where enrollments are up and where we can almost declare dividend weather that goes towards the prices of tuition or other investments in quality.”
Button adds that he hopes they can get to that point soon.
While operating budget deficits are anticipated to continue in the short term, the University of Regina expects to return to a balanced operating budget position by 2024-25.