The UNB Student Union may increase student fees for the 2015-2016 school year because of inflation and a drop in enrolment.
The current fee of $95 per student covers several different programs and facilities offered by UNB, including student advocacy, student council, elections and entertainment such as concerts and clubs and societies.
Each year the UNB’s finance committee is supposed to look at the current fee and make adjustments as needed, however this hasn’t happened since the 2010-2011 academic year.
“Costs have gone up since then. Last year I strongly advocated taking a look at our fee but nobody wanted to do it because nobody wants to be the one to think about raising fees,” said Greg Bailey, president of the UNBSU.
The motion to increase the fee will be discussed at the next council meeting on the Nov. 30.
“We’re going to go to council and talk about what kind of money we need to run the services we have. It’s either pay for the services we have now or start cutting things,” Bailey said.
The UNBSU currently has the lowest student fee in Atlantic Canada. Bailey said that even if the fee does increase, it would still not be as much as Atlantic Canada’s average of $140.
Bailey said that a lack of enrolment at UNB is part of the reason why the fee may need to be increased. This year saw the enrolment of full-time undergraduate students drop by 296.
“The enrolment numbers that we base our budget on have been the same for probably three or four [years] now. They haven’t actually taken into account the fluctuation in enrolment,” he said.
But just how big is the Student Union’s budget? For 2014-2015, the budget was $1.7 million for the year.
“Close to a million of that is health and dental. People pay the money for insurance and then that money goes out as people get treatment. It’s an in-and-out kind of thing,” Bailey said.
The majority of what remains after insurance is paid goes towards paid positions on campus.
“A lot of it [the budget] goes towards … our office staff, the executives, part-time employees who run things like Safe Ride, the Welcome Centre and things like that. That’s where most of our money goes,” he said.
Simon Greenough, a biochemistry major at UNB, said that he would rather be spending $100 on a good night than school fees.
“I don’t think it’s fair to be asking students for any more money than we’re already paying. I mean, I appreciate all that the Student Union provides for the student body, but I don’t want to see all of what little disposable income I have left after tuition going to another university-related expense,” he said.
Greenough said that he thinks the current fee should be less than what it is, but that it is still rather fair.
“I think the programs that the money goes towards are great and completely necessary, but I think it’d be too much to ask for the students to pay any more than maybe $100,” he said.