Only two people hear Humber president discuss looming $13M budget cut

by | Mar 15, 2019 | Headlines, News

Madison Raye, News Reporter

Humber College North campus. The college faces cuts in funding as the provincial government cut tuitions. (Madison Raye)

Humber College President Chris Whitaker was ready to talk about next term’s changes brought down by Queen’s Park but he faced an almost empty room.

What should have been a full house became a ghost town as Whitaker shared his thoughts to a reporter and a faculty member. It was expected that about 10 people who were registered would attend.

Whitaker shrugged it off, saying he believes the empty room was more about this week’s March Break as the college becomes quieter around this time.

Whitaker organizes these discussions to allow participants to talk about certain topics as a group. The topic for discussion was about the new policies that will be implemented next term at Humber.

The new policies at humber consist of the elimination of the free tuition, the ability of students to opt out of student fees and the 10 per cent cut in tuition costs.

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Even though Whitaker is unsure of his next steps, He plans on working around the new policies to make up for the loss in funding and to ensure students still enjoy their time at Humber.

He said the last resort would be to take away from students but he is certain there are ways to make up the funding over the next few years.

Humber College President and CEO Chris Whitaker said the college will have to find alternative ways to make up for the loss of tution funding. (Tamara Shade)

Humber is planning to find a way to work around the loss of money that is expected to hit in the 2019-2020 school year.

Humber is expected to lose millions of dollars due to tuition cuts that were just recently announced by Premier Doug Ford.

“There is a $13-to-14 million hit on our budget because of that loss,” Whitaker said. “So it then becomes a question of how do you make that up?”

He said the argument is the college would recover the expected loss of funding with the help of international students — who pay unsubsidized tuitions — however that can’t work because of the current capacity at Humber. The school can’t use the international students to make up for the millions lost because the school is full.

Humber cannot take more international students because the school has reached its maximum capacity, he said.

Students will be able to opt out of certain ancillary fees in the next academic year, but Whitaker said what will become optional has yet to be decided. The board and the student union, IGNITE, will meet March 26 to decide which items students will be able to opt out of and which ones will still be mandatory.

“This one was more driven by the university politics and complaints about the fees on the university side but colleges get lumped in with universities and sometimes we have to take the fall out,” he said.

Whitaker said the previous Liberal government’s program of free tuition through OSAP grants didn’t have much of an impact, and the numbers regarding students attending school remained about the same as previous years.

“What the Conservatives have done is, I think, is realized that the net free tuition was ending up costing a lot more money from a government perspective,” Whitaker said. “I’m not saying it wasn’t great because I would love free post-secondary education for everybody.”