Students at Cape Breton University are raising concerns over the school’s plan to cut the women’s varsity volleyball team, eliminate an ice skating rink and raise tuition by a total of 20 per cent over the next four years.

“I think this will mean a decline here in the student population,” says Brandon Ellis, the president of Cape Breton University’s student union.

“The university keeps talking about how it wants to grow, but I think it’s pricing itself out of the market for students.”

Students will also be facing a new campus renewal fee and an IT fee – a total of $350 per student, in addition to the tuition hike.

Fourth-year marketing student Kenzie Cameron says it’s already hard enough to pay for university, without the anticipated increase.

“I personally don’t have a loan. I’m working all summer and throughout the school year,” says Cameron. “Even with the current tuition rates, it’s quite difficult to save up that much money. With any increase, it only gets more difficult.”

Officials have also eliminated the ice surface at the Canada Games complex and axed the women’s varsity volleyball team because it’s too expensive to maintain.

“It is the trend in the Atlantic to cut back on volleyball because we are not in a position to maintain volleyball for various reasons,” says university president David Wheeler.

But Ellis feels CBU should be making cuts elsewhere.

“Currently, we have three vice-presidents, once president and seven deans,” he says. “We also have two associate deans for less than 3,000 students here. That’s essentially a dean for every 300 students.”

This year’s budget does include some job cuts; the university says it plans to cut five to 10 per cent of its staff and faculty.

“We’re not happy to have to reduce our staff by $2.5 million over the next four years, but we have to do it to keep this university strong for this community and Nova Scotia,” says Wheeler.

He says the rise in tuition reflects the province’s decision to provide only a one per cent increase in its annual operating grant over the next four years.

Ellis believes the decision will result in a decrease in enrolment at the university.