High tuition fees met with social supports for students  

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The weight of debt is almost as bad as the upholstery in the Ad Hum pit. elizabethaferry via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

The cost to pay leaves no room for play

by rayanne gwilliam, contributor

Tuition rates have risen once again at the University of Regina. A 3.5 per cent spike has been narrowed down to the university facing a deficit of millions because of the pandemic. Given that alarming fact, it’s become very apparent students are experiencing a continuous spike of insecurities and stress regarding their basic financial needs, including paying for school. In response to rising tuition rates, members of the university have been taking proactive action to provide assistance in multiple ways, as well as comment on the impact of what’s currently being offered, changes that could be made, and future plans.  

I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with University of Regina Student Union (URSU) President, Navjot Kaur, about additional steps to help students cope with high costs. Kaur was able to provide several points of valuable information, pointing firstly to the emergency bursaries for students in immediate need. The most unique factor being there is no long wait period to get results, nor is there any academic requirements to fit a vast group of students who each have unique circumstances. Plus, it can be used for things other than tuition or books, such as rent or anything else needed for basic living.  

Speaking of needs for basic living, there is also a community fridge on the second floor of the Riddell Centre beside the URSU office that students can anonymously access to get free fridge goods. Should it be needed on a more consistent basis, there’s also the ability to sign up to get free groceries every 15 days. Hygiene products, including menstruation products, are available to students who need them.  

Another obstacle students face is the ability to purchase electronic devices. The university provides student with the opportunity to borrow a computer from the library to use while in school. Desktops are also available at the library, fully equipped with software pre-installed. A computer rehoming program through URSU has been created in partnership with Computers for Students Saskatchewan, providing students with a computer.  

In contrast the Really BIG Deal, the housing program created to combat student debt, is riddled with problems. While the program may benefit long-term students, it is not helping students already halfway through their degree or taking a shorter program like a certificate. Due to the cost of the dorms, what you’re saving in university costs equals out to be about the same as living elsewhere, which questions how effective it currently is or will be in the future.  

In regard to the future plans for URSU, one of their biggest current goals is to advertise the options students have access to so they feel less alone and part of a community. They also encourage others to be proactive and involve themselves in student politics, to advocate for themselves from the inside, as well as moving towards the example set by the University of Saskatchewan and equalizing the costs paid by both international and domestic students.  

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