By Mary Chan
Tuition season is officially here.
Students taking a full course load will pay an additional $188.42 in tuition fees next year if the University of Calgary Board of Governors passes a recommended 5.15 per cent tuition hike Feb. 4. It’s an option most students are loathe to see.
"I think it sucks," said first-year General Studies student Sari Waldman. "Before you know it, we’ll be able to go away for the same price as staying in town. Education is so important these days, but it’s going to be a lot harder to get if they keep increasing it."
The increase is 65 per cent of the maximum increase allowed by the province. This year, post-secondary institutions were limited to a possible hike of $289.88 for 10 half courses. If the increase passes, students will pay $4,249 in tuition and compulsory fees next year.
"Certainly, it’s not a good thing for the student body as a whole," said SU President Rob South. "For a lot of students it means stress, more hours at work and less hours studying. For some students it’s their limit and they may choose not to attend next year. For some students, it doesn’t mean anything at all."
The amount of the increase is the result of a tuition consultation process between the SU and U of C administration. Though he took part in the talks, South will vote against the motion on Feb. 4.
"No tuition increase is a good tuition increase," he said. "We can’t have any members of the public or student body perceive that the SU endorses an increase."
"However, we feel the university has made a very good effort to deal with affordability," South added. "And given their financial situation, it’s not unreasonable to be asking for [an increase]."
U of C Associate Vice-president Finance Richard Roberts saw the agreement as a balance between the issues of affordability and quality.
"We believe that students recognize that the university is trying its best to support and maintain the academic quality and at the same time is trying to be sensitive to the needs of the student and be responsible to the affordability issue," he said.
Some students understand the university’s point of view.
"I don’t want to pay it, but I know the school really needs it," said fourth-year History student Stephanie Cousineau. "If the university really needs the money, I’d rather pay a little bit more and see something good come of it."
As part of their provincial lobbying effort, the SU is holding a postcard campaign in which students can send postcards to either the Alberta Minister of Learning or their MLA. Tables will be set up around campus starting Wed., Jan. 26.
The BoG meeting takes place Feb. 4 at 8 a.m. in the Blue Room of the Dining Centre.