Tuition rates must decline

Peterson Air Force base High enough is enough.

With student unemployment at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to lower tuition.

Amidst the pandemic, students need tuition rates to decline more than ever. The University of Regina has already made steps in the right direction by eliminating Recreation & Athletic Fees and the Student Union Bus Pass, resulting in $188 decline, but more needs to be done.

Recently, and even before COVID-19 struck, tuition rates have been a source of conflict for the University of Regina. In 2018, Maclean’ranked the U of R as the fourth most expensive place to move away from home, costing $22,745.95. Exposure of this outrageous cost inspired the U of R Students’ Union “Tuition Freeze Now” movement, which went on to collect over 1000 signatures during the 2019 winter semester. Despite this, during the 2019-2020 semester, the University announced that there would be no financial relief given, and that tuition rates would continue to rise. 

For obvious reasons, financial difficulty has surfaced for students since the beginning of the pandemic. Many students face financial struggle on a regular basis in the first place, which only strengthens the urgency for tuition rates to decline. In January, 2020, Forbes estimated that student debt has risen to a devastating $1.56 trillion dollars. Accumulated student debt is already hindering for many individuals, but the effects of unemployment caused by the pandemic has made future education even more precarious.

The U of R has still yet to release a statement regarding the fall semester’s tuition, even though the pressure to decrease tuition rates is higher than ever. Many students are overwhelmed with expectations placed on them such as their education, jobs, social life, and mental health. The crippling debt inflicted upon students is a cause for deteriorating mental health. Financial difficulty can be a source of embarrassment and insecurity for students. On top of their heavy work load, many students are also forced to find extra work doing part-time jobs to pay expenses. Trying to balance schoolwork and jobs results in anxiety and stress, both of which are gateways to greater mental illnesses such as depression. In 2018, Psychology Today released an article showing the average student debt ranges between $20,000 and $26,300 by graduation. It can only be assumed that the rate has now risen since then. 

The transfer to online learning has been difficult for students and professors alike. Whether it’s struggling with internet connection issues, or the inability for students to get the desired in-class experience, a new semester of frustrations is in store for Fall 2020. This means that the quality of classes is reduced.

Further, with the U of R locked tight, there will be no access to the library or the Writing Centre, limiting valuable research and tutoring opportunities. John Archer Library will be a sorely missed space this semester; for many students, having a quiet place to work was incredibly valuable. Moreover, being able to book a study room with white boards and markers is essential for a successful study session in many cases. Although there is access to online texts through the online library, many books will still not be available to students. The physical space and feel of the library can be considered the office away from home – that is, if students can even have an office at home. For many individuals, the library is an essential place of production and focus, something that many students will have to make arrangements for during the fall semester. Tuition rates should reflect the access to spaces like this for students.

The University experience is more than just classes, and student life should be more than just studying. Joining recreational activities and clubs can create fond memories. Meeting new people can generate long lasting friendships, and participating in class discussions offers additional insight. During the pandemic, it is important that we unite and recognize what we are missing, and part of that involves compensation from institutions.

Tuition rates must decline to reflect the quality of the semester and ensure the mental well-being ofstudents. With many students left unemployed by the pandemic, it is essential that the University of Regina compensates to help their students during a time of crisis. 

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