Calgary

U of C students seek delay to tuition increases citing inadequate consultation

The University of Calgary Students' Union is calling for a delay to proposed tuition increases because of what they call inadequate consultation. 

Administration says consultations with stakeholders are ongoing

University of Calgary administration must submit its exceptional tuition increase requests to the province for approval by the end of the month. (David Bell/CBC)

The University of Calgary Students' Union is calling for a delay to proposed tuition increases because of what they call inadequate consultation. 

Administration is proposing increases for medical students and engineering students ranging from 15 to 51 per cent.

U of C Students' Union president Nicole Schmidt says at a meeting earlier this week administration said it had been consulting with students since March 

"However it came to light that the consultation was nothing more than surveys given out to students with no context or numbers on the actual increases," she said.

Students feel consultations rushed

Schmidt said students were only told about the proposals in mid-May — two weeks after classes had already ended.

"The university has a 10-month window where they're required to consult with students and submit these increases to the province and we've only seen the details of these proposals within the last six weeks of this 10 month window, which we think is unacceptable."

Exceptional tuition increase requests must be submitted to the province for approval by the end of the month.

University of Calgary Students' Union president Nicole Schmidt says students were only told about the proposals in mid-May — two weeks after classes had already ended. (University of Calgary's Students' Union)

But Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said he's yet to receive a request from the U of C.

"The regulation requires the institution to demonstrate engagement and consultation with affected students and I will be looking for this when I receive the application," he said in an emailed statement.

Consultations ongoing

In an emailed statement the university said consultations are ongoing, but no one was available to do an interview about the process.

"The University of Calgary continues to consult with stakeholders, including students, on proposals to seek ministerial approval for exceptional tuition fee increases for three of its professional programs," said a university spokesperson in an email.

"If approved, funding generated by these proposals would improve the quality of programming, enhance the student experience, and provide scholarships and bursaries in accordance with the provincial government's tuition framework."

Increases are between 15 and 51%

For undergraduates, the proposals would see tuition would go up 15.7 per cent for the medical doctor program and 32 per cent for the bachelor of science in engineering for domestic students, if approved by the province.

For graduate programs, tuition would increase by 25 per cent for the master of business administration if an exceptional increase is improved.

At the same time the university is proposing that international bachelor of science in engineering students' tuition increases by 51 per cent, and by more than 35 per cent for the master of engineering for international students if approved by the board.

That means MD students and domestic engineering students would pay more than $2,000 more each year, and international engineering students would pay an additional $11,000 per year.

The changes would come into effect for students starting in fall of 2022.

Schmidt said as a bare minimum the university should be running public town halls in each of the affected faculties and run focus groups that include faculty students leaders. 

"Which has not been done up to this point," she said. "These consultations should have occurred in the first eight months of this 10 month window so that students can actively participate while enrolled in classes."

Schmidt says the SU is seeking a delay of these proposed increases until that threshold of consultation can be met.

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