Since most Okanagan students will be staying close to home when school starts, some post-secondary students have been asking why there are extra fees associated with their tuition when as most classes will be online due to the COVId-19 pandemic.
Several Okanagan College students from the Kelowna campus reached out to Black Press Media saying, the school is charging a $15 fee for textbooks and other school merchandise to be shipped locally.
However, associate vice president Allan Coyle said the $15 is actually a new fee.
“We only started charging for merchandise delivery that’s being mailed out on Aug. 1. But since we made the pivot to online classes in mid-March, we haven’t been charging for those deliveries,” he said.
He said the reason for this was to compensate for the loss of other ancillary income as the college joins other post-secondary institutions in delivering instruction online. That means the college won’t see much revenue coming in from the campus bookstore, student residences as it cut down its residence capacity to more than 50 per cent to allow safe distancing and parking.
The college also recently announced it won’t charge for parking once school starts.
Yet, Coyle explained this is why Okanagan College students won’t see a reduction in their tuition fees either.
“The costs of running the institution don’t decrease, and in-fact in some instances, they’ve increased.”
“The amount of work we’re putting into technology has gone up dramatically since we pivoted to primarily online learning. There are other costs for things like increased cleaning since we still will have students who will come to campus for lab and shop times,” Coyle added.
He added there won’t be a reduction in tuition this year as the school expects a bit of a shortfall when it comes to next year’s enrolment and revenue.
Coyle said the number of international students coming to the Okanagan will decrease in the coming school year due to COVID-19 regulations. He said it’s too early to tell what final enrolment numbers will look like, as international and domestic enrolments continue to change daily.
But if students need to save, Coyle said buying the e-books instead of physical textbooks will cost less and take up less space in the long run. He added that once the library opens on Wednesday, Sept. 8, students can also borrow books instead of buying them.