University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy has found a lucrative, politically astute way around the province's tuition-fee cap. Pressed for cash, the university is charging students a $5-per-credit-hour fee. The new technology levy will help fund the president's goal of expanding the U of W into the virtual, online university world.
The fee amounts to more than a four per cent hike to full-time tuition, well above the 1.6 per cent tuition hike the province has allowed. (The tuition increase will cost U of W students $29 on average; the tech fee, $90.)
A decade of tuition-fee freezes, recently thawed, has kept Manitoba tuitions far below the national average. It is politically popular, but at a discernible cost to universities. Mr. Axworthy and University of Manitoba president David Barnard feel the Selinger government should let them determine the tuition hikes; the province is sticking to its inflationary-hike policy.
The technology fee will boost the U of W's revenues, while playing to the province's tuition-cap charade. This year, U of W students will pay $140 more to attend, largely as a result of the technology fee. Using ancillary fees to finance bigger pieces of the university budget allows the political masters to pretend they are defending affordable post-secondary education. A tuition hike if necessary, but not necessarily a tuition hike.