Students living on campus faced with increased fees

The University of Manitoba Board of Governors recently passed a five per cent increase to student residence fees on top of tuition fee increases that are yet to be finalized.

The cost of a single room in Mary Speechly hall, including 10 meals per week as part of the meal plan membership, has gone up from $7,395 in 2009/2010 to $7,735 for 2010/2011.

“Residence living at the U of M continues to be among the most affordable across the country, including the minimal increase this year of roughly $50 per $1,000,” said university spokesperson John Danakas.

University of Manitoba Students’ Union president, Heather Laube, said that although student residence offers an amazing life experience, the rising fees will make living on campus financially impossible for some.

“In addition to the five percent increase to residence fees, another increase of five to ten per cent on mandatory meal plans for most residence students will also be enforced,” explained Laube,

“At the rate they are increasing fees, many students will not be able to afford the experience.”

Danakas explained that there are a number of meal plan options for students and increases to the cost of these meal plans is not uniform. However, meals plans for residents of Mary Speechly and Tache hall did increase by five percent over last year.

“By industry standards, food cost increases are trending at approximately six per cent annually, and the cost of going green is ever increasing,” said Danakas.

The most inexpensive meal plan for University College residents, called the Super Saver plan, also increased by 10 per cent this year over last year, from $2,000 per year to $2,200 per year.

“It’s important to note that this is a credit toward food purchases, so it’s technically money back in the students’ pockets or food in their stomachs, so to speak,” said Danakas.
“The price of the food didn’t increase per se. The amount they are being asked to put forward towards a declining balance did.”

Stacey Dunn, a Faculty of Science student who lived in residence for her first two years of university, said she chose to live in residence primarily because it was convenient. She explained the hardest part of paying the residence fees is having to pay them all up front at the beginning of the year.

“It’s a lot of money up front,” said Dunn.

“It’s definitely cheaper to not live in residence. I find right now, it’s cheaper to live in an apartment and cook your own food.”

However, she thought a five per cent increase to residence fees wouldn’t have a huge impact on most students.

“The cost of living is going up so its expected that some things are going to go up. It would still be affordable for me, but it’s hard to say.” 

The increase in residence fees comes not long after the Board of Governors also passed a five per cent tuition fee increase.

The provincial government is currently assessing proposals for additional tuition increases that have been submitted by deans of various faculties.

“We’re waiting to hear whether the Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy, Diane McGifford and Premier Greg Selinger want to hike tuition fees in the programs and faculties targeted,” said Laube.

So far, UMSU is aware of fee increase proposals put forward by the faculties of Pharmacy, Nursing, Law, Management, Medical Rehabilitation, Dentistry, Dental Hygiene, Agriculture, Medicine and Education.

While these potential tuition fee increases have yet to be announced, many students are anxiously awaiting to hear the results.

“There are less than three months left in the summer for students to try to earn what could be hundreds or even thousands of dollars in tuition fees,” said Laube.

“The provincial government should be looking at solutions to make sure [that] post-secondary education, which includes housing, is accessible to anyone who wants to go to university, not just students who can afford it.”