WINNIPEG -- Students at the University of Manitoba are facing a tuition hike.

According to a news release from the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU), the school’s board of governors approved a $660 million operating budget for the 2021/2022 school year, including an average 3.75 per cent tuition increase across all programs.

The UMSU said this tuition hike would result in an increase of about $14.9 million in tuition revenue compared to the 2020/2021 school year.

According to the students’ union, a briefing document submitted to the board of governors said that because of a 1.75 per cent decrease in the provincial operating grant for next year, the school has to generate more revenue from tuition and fees to maintain its range of programs and service.

The UMSU noted that at the end of January, the province informed U of M it would see a $5.9 million reduction in its operating grant for the upcoming school year.

“This mistreatment of post-secondary education extends far into the past, before COVID-19,” said Jelynn Dela Cruz, UMSU president, in a news release.

“As the Province recognizes our value as the next generation of skilled workers through the recent Skills, Talent, and Knowledge strategy, students refuse to take the consecutive cuts to post-secondary education as our new normal.”

At the end of February, the students’ union submitted recommendations to the school’s budget advisory committee, which included increased funding to adapt open-source digital learning materials, more support for mental health and consent culture programs, and a renewed and expanded hardship relief fund for international students.

In the U of M’s new budget, the university is increasing student assistance funding by $1 million; adding $1.2 million to improve online teaching; and allocating $250,000 towards the implementation of an equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy.

“Overall, the University should be commended for listening to students' recommendations and following up on that with more money for student assistance programs, especially amid a pandemic when finances are stretched more than ever,” said Kristin Smith, the UMSU’s vice president of advocacy.