Starting next summer, students at the College of New Caledonia can expect to see a bump in course costs.
The college's board of governors voted Friday to a two-per-cent tuition increase - or $5 per course - that should translate to about $115,000 in additional revenue, a total that is subject to enrolment.
College president Henry Reiser said approving the vote was "absolutely critical."
"I'm comfortable with a modest increase in tuition in order to ensure that the institution is sustainable. Tuition represents a very, very small cost of attending a post-secondary institution," said Reiser, adding food, transportation and accommodation are bigger financial barriers.
"One of the problems is that in the past we as an institution did not take advantage of the tuition lifts as everyone else in the province did and as a result we are being consistently penalized in meeting our budgetary needs," said Reiser, referring to the annual increase permitted provincially.
Eric Depenau was one of the three who voted against the increase, which will kick in Aug. 1, 2015.
"As a representative of the student body I don't think it's in line with [what] the people who elected me would like to see."
Depenau said he'd like the provincial government to step up in order to keep the cost of education down.
"We recognize [CNC] is a more affordable institution than many others but that being said it still not affordable for everyone. We'd like to see more equality, accessible, equitable post-secondary education."
But it was clear at the meeting that a tuition increase would only be a small part of solving the college's budgetary woes.
Both revenue and tuition for the current year were lower than expected, reported Sue McAllister, the college's vice president of finance.
Reiser said one solution is creating new programs that fulfill existing demand, but the other involves looking outward.
"My goal is that I would like to see significant increase in our international activity to try and offset our financial challenges," Reiser told the board, adding it's been a provincial focus of Premier Christy Clark.
"The challenge is getting them to come to a remote community in the north," he said in an interview after the meeting.
Reiser also stressed his efforts to formalize relationships with well known universities - like University of British Columbia and University of Victoria - so international students can be assured their years at the college are transferable to the better-branded institutions.
Reiser, who recently came back from a three-week trip to India to build partnerships with institutions there, said the college could expect see the benefits of that relationship very soon.
"You should see it by next year, especially with India," Reiser said of the potential for enrolment.
"What's important is that not only do the international students bring revenue, but they also bring their experiences to the classroom," said Reiser, adding CNC has made a concerted effort in the last number of years to increase international student enrollment. The current number sits at 330.
"When we have students in the north who have never left B.C., for example, they don't know what the world is like. These students will tell them what he world is like and we become a global economy."