Fredericton, N.B 一 St. Thomas University has released its operating budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The budget includes 5.5 per cent increases to both domestic and international tuition. For the Bachelor of Arts Program, these increases translate to $372.68 and $837.65 to domestic and international tuition respectively. The St. Thomas University Students’ Union strongly opposes these increases and urges the university to consider the negative impact its decision will have on students.

The increases are particularly concerning due to the recent cuts to financial aid in New Brunswick. Our most vulnerable students from low-income families will no longer receive free tuition which puts them at a disadvantage to accessing Post-Secondary Education.

Moreover, International students already pay twice the value of domestic tuition. Increasing their fees further sends the dangerous message that these students are not valued for their contributions to our campus community, but for their monetary contribution to the university. Education should be affordable to everyone, including international students.

“I am extremely disappointed by the university's decision to increase tuition for both domestic and international students. We are making it explicit to the university that we do not support these drastic increases to tuition”, said Husoni Raymond, President of the Students’ Union. “International students already pay significantly more to study here, and low and middle-income students lack strong financial support from the government to bare these increases.

St. Thomas University ended the 2018-2019 fiscal year in an operating deficit which can be attributed to the absence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of New Brunswick. We acknowledge that the university is underfunded by the government and we will continue to aid them in reaching an equitable agreement. However, our students should not shoulder the burden of supplementing the university's operating grant.

“Low income and international students will be disproportionately affected by these increases. We are disheartened since St. Thomas University is known to be a socially progressive institution but failed to consider how these changes will negatively impact our most vulnerable students, ” said Ailish Mackenzie-Foley, Vice President Education of the Students’ Union.

In addition, the university has failed to adequately consult students on their recent budget. While it was mentioned that there is a potential for tuition increases at the budget town hall, the specific amount was not identified. Therefore, students are surprised by the steep increases. The timing of the budget release is inconvenient as students are no longer on campus to voice their concerns.

We would like to see the university implement a predictable tuition schedule so students can accurately forecast the cost of their university education over the length of their studies. Moreover, we are encouraging the university to create a public internal policy to govern the setting of tuition fees for both domestic and international students.

“The university needs to be more transparent with its consultation process. It is unfair to release the new budget at a time when students are not present on campus,” said Husoni Raymond, STUSU President. “If the university had a predictable tuition schedule and created an internal policy to govern tuition increases, students would be better equipped to budget for their studies. The current process is simply unfair, and we are calling upon the university to rectify it. At a minimum, they should grandfather the tuition of current students to protect them from the unforeseen expense.”

In light of the changes to tuition and financial aid in New Brunswick, The St. Thomas Students’ Union will be very strategic in its approach to opposing these changes in the coming months.

We will continue to advocate for more upfront needs-based grants for students and increased funding for the universities to prevent similar tuition increases in the future. We will continue to advocate for predictable tuition schedules and an internal policy to limit tuition increases. We remain committed to ensuring our students enjoy an accessible, affordable, and quality education.

The St. Thomas University Students’ Union (STUSU) was established over 75 years ago and represents the interests of all students at St. Thomas University.

Media Contact: Husoni Raymond, STUSU President, su_president@stu.ca, (506) 460-0303

-30-