Discussions about a proposed University of Calgary tuition increase have been launched at the request of the student union, which claims the school’s administration has refused to allow proper student consultation on the matter.
In a news release last week, the U of C Student Union said the university did not allow it to discuss the planned tuition and fee increases with the undergraduate students that would affect them. As such, it says students were not made aware of the potential bump in costs.
“The university will essentially approve the class and fee increases before students even know about them,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt on Thursday. “The university has shared the proposals privately with SU, but is not prepared to allow us to consult with students about these increases.”
A university committee was to give preliminary approval to the planned walkout on Monday, a week before officials were to talk to elected student leaders about the proposal. According to SU, the university typically held student town halls on teaching and consulted student councils much earlier in the process.
Final approval on the increase would come at a December U of C board meeting, but at SU’s request, the university said it would move that decision to a future meeting.
“The University of Calgary is pleased to accommodate the request of the student union to move the vote on tuition to a later board of governors meeting to allow for additional student consultation,” the university said in a written statement to Postmedia.
Before the university agreed to move the meeting, SU said its request to postpone the proposal had been denied; it also accused the university of failing to meet its obligations under the Tuition and Fees Regulation and Alberta Education Framework. They sent a letter to Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education, asking them to intervene.
“By blinding students with tuition and fee increases and failing to report, as required, how fee income is spent, the university is secretive and unaccountable to its biggest stakeholder,” said SU Vice President Mateusz Salmassi .
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Nicolaides said the ministry is reviewing the concerns outlined in SU’s letter, noting that “students always deserve to have their voices heard.”
“Therefore, the Tuition and Fees Regulation has several requirements for student consultation on tuition and fee increases that our universities must comply with,” he said.
Nicolaides said the county invested $15 million this year to create a new low-income scholarship and committed an additional $12 million for existing scholarships.
The exact details of the proposed tuition bump are unknown, but the university says it is in line with inflationary changes to the Alberta Consumer Price Index, “as envisioned in the tuition framework and as previously communicated.” The next council of governors meeting will take place in March.
If approved, the increase would continue a series of annual tuition increases for U of C students.
Earlier this year, students protested an “extraordinary” cost increase approved by the provincial government, boycotting classes and protesting on campus in March. SU said at the time that overall tuition at the university had risen by around 25 percent over the past three years.
Postmedia requested an updated statement from SU, but received no response.