The University of Alberta law faculty wants to raise tuition levels by 58 per cent over the next three years in order to compete with other Canadian law schools.
Tuition is currently $10,121 a year and the increases would bring the cost up to $15,000. The additional money could be used for career counselling services and maintaining class sizes.
Tuition at the U of A is a bargain compared to other Canadian law schools. One year at the University of Toronto’s law school is $31,536, the most expensive in Canada. The next most costly is Osgoode Hall, at $22,672,
Usually students oppose tuition increases, but this proposal has the support of the Law Students’ Association.
In a letter to university provost Carl Amrhein, LSA president Scott Meyer says that students are concerned about how budget cuts like course cancellations, a reduction in law library hours and a lack of legal librarians over the summer are affecting the overall quality of the program.
Meyer told CBC News on Friday that the faculty may have to find ways to cut costs and make more money.
“Increasing enrollment might be one. Increasing class sizes, decreasing course offerings,” he said.
“Again, in a legal marketplace that is changing so rapidly, that is completely the wrong direction that we need to be going. We need to be investing early on in our futures.”
The University of Alberta Students’ Union isn’t quite so keen, worrying that there hasn’t been enough consultation with law students.
Navneet Khinda, student union vice-president, says this may set a poor precedent for tuition increases for other programs at other universities.
“The University of Calgary is also being hit with something similar with their engineering faculty and if proper process isn't followed in this instance, what about any future increases in other faculties at the U of A?” she asked.
In Alberta, tuition increases are linked to the consumer price index.
In 2010, the province allowed some programs to do a one-time tuition hike in order to match rates charged at other Canadian universities. However, the law faculty at the University of Alberta wasn’t included.
The province may soon do another round of these so-called “market modifiers.”
However, a government official said that no decision has been made.