Assiniboine Community College may increase its tuition fees next school year after the provincial government reduced funding to post-secondary institutions in its 2018 budget.
Monday’s budget announcement included a 0.9 per cent cut in support to universities and colleges — a decrease to $693 million from $699 million in 2017-18.
This comes after operating grants were frozen for post-secondary institutions last year.
"Obviously, we’re a little disappointed about that," said ACC president Mark Frison, "but it isn’t the end of the world."
Frison said the reduction in funding will translate into an estimated $265,000 loss for ACC, something he wasn’t expecting given the premier’s remarks about this being the "best budget ever."
To offset the funding cut, Frison said the college may raise tuition fees by up to $250 per program.
The increase will need to be approved by ACC’s board of governors, he said, and the board typically receives its budget in May.
"The tuition environment in Manitoba colleges is incredibly competitive nationally," Frison added. "We have the lowest fees in Western Canada for college students, so in general, we’ve been very competitive on the tuition side."
The province froze operating grants to post-secondary institutions last year and both ACC and Brandon University have been bracing for possible reductions to management.
No one from BU was available to comment on the budget.
Overall, Frison said the cuts will not have a material impact on the college’s multi-year budget plan.
"So we were a little surprised that there was a reduction, but our sights are firmly set on the upcoming release of the college review."
ACC is waiting on the provincial government to release a report on the college sector. The review was commissioned by Higher Education Strategy Associations and was set to be finalized by the end of last year.
Frison said he expects a report to come out within the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the provincial government said they are working to finalize the materials and will release the findings in the near future.
Frison said one of the findings he believes will come out of the review will be that Manitoba needs more college spaces.
"We’re actually hopeful that when the province releases its own report — and that’s a leading recommendation — that will influence next year’s budget."
He said Manitoba has the third lowest number of college seats in the country and 85 per cent of the money that is spent on post-secondary education goes to Winnipeg.
The report, Frison said, will likely give the government a reason to invest in rural Manitoba.
"I think this report may lead them to look at how ... (to) get more strategic about the investments that they’re going to make."
Beyond post-secondary, Frison was pleased to see the province invest in a new school in Brandon.
"The growing population in Brandon is certainly something that has our attention. We know the school division was very jammed up for space."