Tuition consultation underway

By Natalie Sit

While many students waited in line and online to pay their tuition, University of Calgary administration and the Students’ Union began tuition consultation for the next year.

The SU’s President Toby White, Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek and Academic Commissioner Nic Porco represent the students in the discussion. Dean of Communication and Culture Kathleen Scherf, VP Finance and Services Keith Winter and VP Student Affairs Peggy Patterson represent the university at the table.

Tuition consultation is mandated in the Universities Act, meaning all four Alberta universities must consult students before tuition is raised. However, tuition consultation means different things to the participants, varying from informing the campus to justifying a tuition increase to students.

"The definition of consultation as I perceive is we have to respond to the Students’ Union as to our financial situation with regards to tuition," said Winter. "We are intending to answer questions and provide data."

Both Porco and Wojtaszek think consultation is good way to involve students in the process and make the university accountable to the students.

"It means the university will be able to justify to students a tuition increase," said Wojtaszek. "The SU clearly represents students to the university on why tuition is too high and the goal of the university is to keep tuition as low as possible."

Thurs., Sept. 21 marked the first meeting between the six members. Both sides thought it went well and that future meetings would be productive.

"The first meeting was [about] the two sides stating their goals and how we would measure success and the expectations of both sides," said Wojtaszek.

After the group meets four more times, Winter will bring his recommendations to the Planning and Finance Committee of the Board of Governors. The Planning and Finance Committee in turn advises the BoG, which then votes on the recommendation. The vote will most likely occur some time in December.

Both sides have different goals they hope to achieve during their meetings. Wojtaszek has two goals in mind this year–informing students of the process and achieving the lowest tuition increase possible.

"It’s consultation with students, not consultation with Toby and Duncan," said Wojtaszek. "We need to be as transparent as possible. That was a major criticism last year."

Porco echoes Wojtaszek’s statement about student involvement.

"It’s important students have a say in [how the university] fundraises before they raise tuition," said Porco.

According to Winter, balancing both sides’ agendas is an important issue.

"I know what that university needs, I know about students’ ability to deal with post-secondary costs," said Winter. "We need to balance students’ needs with the university’s needs. The university’s needs are directly related to the quality of education."

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