Written by: Michelle Young, News Editor
On November 6 2020, Vice-President, Academic & Provost pro tem Jonathan Driver and Vice-President, Finance & Administration Martin Pochurko announced in an email statement that “SFU’s Board of Governors approved a 2% increase for domestic undergraduate tuition and a 4% increase for international undergraduate tuition for the current academic year, and [ . . . ] propose similar increases for the next two years.”
The email stated: “Right now, we expect a decrease in income, resulting in $26M less income than anticipated. At the same time, our expenses have not decreased — the shift to largely virtual course delivery required significant investment in order to support students and faculty — and we are continuing to feel the pressures of inflation, as we do every year.”
Further, the email also acknowledged that COVID-19 brought financial uncertainty and stress to the SFU community. It added that SFU “offered 3 million dollars in emergency support to students who lost income opportunities, or needed financial assistance to find secure housing or fund cancelled travel costs” and stated that SFU will continue to support students with bursaries.
In response, The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) sent out an email statement to students, condemning the university. It noted that “[Pochurko] and Driver point to supports such as bursaries and emergency aid as justification for allowing tuition increases to happen. This is not an equitable solution, as bursaries have a GPA limit that imply that financial aid is deserved by students whose grades are good enough.
“The $3M in emergency aid has run out – meanwhile the COVID-19 pandemic does not seem to be resolving anytime soon, which has left students in ongoing financial distress. Students are facing crushing debt, a decimated job market, and being forced into precarious employment which may significantly increase their risks of contracting COVID-19.”
The SFSS also noted that while students voted to condemn SFU’s decision to increase tuition at the 2020 Annual General Meeting, they have chosen to continue increasing tuition.
Driver and Pochurko concluded, “As we continue to move through the budgeting process, we want to share our rationale and have a conversation with the community about our priorities.” They stated that they “will be holding two virtual information sessions.” One is scheduled to take place for students on November 23, and an open session for students, faculty, and staff, is planned to take place on November 30.