By James Keller
Rumours of an impending increase to post-secondary funding have circulated through the University of Calgary administration and the Students’ Union this week. The possibility of a rise in the university’s base operating funding by the province has given both sides hope that a lower tuition increase may be possible this year. Because of this speculation, the administration is currently discussing pushing back the tuition decision, currently scheduled for the December Board of Governors meeting, to February.
"The main reason is that there’s a possibility of more government funding for the
university coming down this year," said SU President Toby White. "The university doesn’t want to get into a situation where they would have to make a tuition decision in December… and then have to reverse that decision because more government funding does become available."
White was not sure exactly how much more money will come through, if any at all, but is seeing this as having great potential for students. Depending on whether enough funding is received, the SU even sees the potential for a zero tuition increase this year.
"If enough funding were to come down from the government, that would be a possibility," said White, adding it is something that would be discussed within the consultation committee.
He also noted that discussion within the tuition consultation committee will continue regardless of when the meeting is set, but also added that if it does get moved, it will give them the benefit of having more time to discuss the issue.
"[Administration] is hoping that if they do move it to February, then any government announcements will be made by then, so they can make a more educated decision when it comes to tuition," explained White.
University Vice-president of Finance Keith Winter was not available for comment, but White pointed out that he would be discussing the issue with Winter in order to figure out when the decision will be made. Although the decision might not be up to the U of C administration, White explained that the initiative to move the decision would likely be in the hands of the BoG. However, since their next meeting isn’t until the December meeting, they might leave it up to the Planning and Finance Committee of the BoG.
As far as the tuition decision itself, the SU is planning to improve consultation with students–a promise White made in his election campaign last year.
"So far we’ve basically been focusing on consulting the Students’ Legislative Council, but we are working on some plans to get input from students," White said, adding that such initiatives will include ads in the Gauntlet, working with student groups and possibly setting up tables around campus.