Queen’s needs a systematic plan to address the inevitable strain that increased enrolment will place on valuable student services.
In 2013-14, 86 per cent of Queen’s total budgeted operating revenues came from tuition and operating grants from the provincial government — grants that increase as enrolment grows. With the cost of operating on the rise, Queen’s, like many universities, has sought to increase in size.
By 2016, Queen’s enrolment will increase by approximately 1,500 students — an expansion the University said will be accommodated with the addition of 550 beds in two new residences and a new food outlet on campus.
Queen’s efforts to garner funds are understandable, considering the school’s precarious financial state in recent years. But the absence of a plan to mitigate the inevitable strain expansion will place on student services is worrisome.
Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) is a critical service that, with only two part-time psychiatrists, is already stretched thin. Mental health is a serious concern at Queen’s; the University needs to be proactive in further supporting HCDS and other services so that students have unrestricted access.
While the addition of two residences was a good move and swiftly executed, 550 new beds can only do so much. International and upper-year students won’t be living in residence, placing a large strain on the housing situation in Kingston.
It’s irresponsible to accept students without being sure of how you’re going to support them. With this risk on the horizon, the University needs ensure any enrolment increases are actually sustainable.
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