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Cut: Spread the wealth. Photo: CC, pixaby. Edits, Rame Abdulkader

Amid SFUO financial mismanagement, don’t overlook the administration

At the University of Ottawa’s Board of Governors (BOG) meeting in September, it was announced that there is currently a surplus totalling $15 million. They learned this from April 2018 financial statements. What’s interesting is that a month after, in May, the BOG voted on a budget that raised tuition costs for the thirteenth consecutive year. This surplus was announced months after raising the tuition, but discovered one month prior to the hike.

Tuition raises for domestic students are regulated by provincial legislation, and the BOG decided to meet that cap exactly, at 3 per cent. Incoming international students’ tuition was raised by 15 per cent. Raising tuition to the maximum amount possible seems a bit excessive for a university currently in a surplus.

The university apparently plans on keeping this money in “future reserves” to address any future deficits or new programs. I think there’s about 40,000 students who have a much better idea on how to spend that money. Perhaps the university could try offsetting tuition costs, or at least not raise tuition a month after finding out they have a surplus of $15 million. Considering the university budgeted for a deficit in May 2017 and February 2018, it’s not a good look.

Considering Ontario universities receive 60 to 70 per cent of their level of funding through provincial grants, it really makes you stop and wonder what exactly the university is adding to their 2018-19 budget that requires such drastic tuition raises, when they also have $15 million on hand.

These tuition hikes not only have a negative impact on domestic students, but also international students who remain without proper regulation. They’re already paying extreme amounts to live and study in this country, let alone in Ottawa with its high living costs. Increasing tuition by 15 per cent serves as a deterrent for future international students. Instead of the U of O, they may pick a different school that doesn’t raise their tuition for 13 consecutive years. In the long term, this may have a detrimental effect on enrollment, which will then cycle into the U of O raising its tuition costs yet again.

The beauty of attending university in Ontario, is that there are plenty of other options. Hell, there’s even another university and multiple colleges right here in Ottawa. The U of O should wake up and realize that adding unnecessary financial stress on students isn’t the best recruiting technique, before it’s too late.