rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

University of Manitoba's continuation fees hike comes at the expense of students

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Peter Tittenberger/flickr

Graduate enrolment is steadily increasing in Manitoba, with more students electing to pursue post-graduate programs at both the Master's and PhD level. The growth in graduate student population contributes much to the diversity and breadth of research done on university campuses. Additionally, once graduate students complete their course of study they contribute to the overall economic vitality of the province. Despite increased enrolment, tuition and continuation fees prevent some students from accessing graduate programs.

The average tuition fee to pursue a graduate degree in Manitoba is approximately $4,363 per year. Manitoba's fees are more affordable compared to other provinces such as Ontario where students pay an average of $8,456 per year. However, financial barriers are still the main reason why Manitoban graduate students stop their studies.

Currently, graduate students pay regular tuition fees for the first and sometimes second year depending on their selected program of study. Most Master's students pay one year of regular tuition fees while PhD students pay two. During subsequent years, graduate students pay what are known as continuing fees. Continuing fees are paid each semester and commence once course work is complete and independent research and thesis writing begins.

The rate of continuing fees are often lower than regular tuition because it is understood that graduate students at the thesis stage of their program use fewer university resources while substantially contributing to the development and execution of research on campus. Graduate students are highly engaged in not only their own research but also often work for faculty on their research, as well as being employed as teaching assistants, course graders or sessional instructors. Graduate students' contributions are invaluable to the productivity and continued success of post-secondary institutions in the province.

Continuing fees are used in a variety of provinces throughout Canada; they are known as post-residency, non-instructional, additional session, re-registration and discounted fees. The rates charged vary from institution to institution, and are a source of anxiety for many students.

Lower socio-economically positioned students are less likely to be able to afford graduate school, especially with the current average undergraduate debt at approximately $19,000. Those who do elect to undertake additional debt to pursue graduate studies can experience higher stress levels, longer completion times and lower retention levels.

Recently the University of Manitoba Graduate Faculty proposed a 326.7 per cent increase to continuing fees for graduate students over three years, increasing fees to $1,500 in September 2014, $2,000 in September 2015, and $3,000 in September 2016. The faculty justifies the increases by claiming that it will be able to attract more graduate students through the provision of increased funding options and additional resources for their programs.

However, no formal plan has been submitted to date, even though the faculty attempted to drastically increase this fee in 2010, citing the same rational.

The new proposal has left University of Manitoba graduates both stunned and confused as to the real reasons behind the sudden and drastic fee increases. Following a recommendation from the provincial government, the Faculty of Graduate Studies has removed their fee-increase proposal from the Council on Post-Secondary Education. According to the Minister of Education and Higher Learning, James Allum, the faculty must now engage in meaningful consultations with students if it wants to resubmit its proposal next year. Minister Allum stated that the sudden fee increases runs contrary to the government's efforts to provide affordable and accessible education post-secondary education.

Continuing fees are a blatant attempt by university administrations to attempt to seek additional revenue at the expense of students. If the university can demonstrate a financial burden associated with providing high quality graduate programs they should be requesting additional funding from the government of Manitoba. Post-secondary education is part of a publicly funded institution and must remain as such to ensure every person, no matter her/his position in life, can access higher education. Through unqualified and thereby unjustified increases to these fees the University of Manitoba is explicitly saying that money is the ultimate goal -- not providing a public education to Manitobans.

Photo: Peter Tittenberger/flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.