Tuition: consultation, decision and increase?

By Jane Alkhouri

By the time you read this, the cost to attend this institution of learning next academic year will have gone up, most likely by 3.7 per cent ($141 dollars for 10 classes). Sucks, eh? I know, Jane also feels your pain since she too will be returning next year.

Three elected members of your Students’ Union, President Toby White, Vice-president External Duncan Wojtaszek and Academic Commissioner Nic Porco, began tuition consultation this fall with university administration. The SU argued that the university could afford a zero per cent increase and that they should get the money from the government, NOT the students.

"It is the Students’ Union’s position that tuition is too high and that the government underfunds universities," said Nic Porco.

The university administration argued that the lowest possible increase would be 3.7 per cent (also the lowest increase in over 10 years). Now where did they get that magic number? Well, it is derived from the cost of inflation figures the Ministry of Learning provides to institutions to help them calculate the maximum allowable increase under the tuition cap. The tuition cap is provincial policy that guarantees tuition revenue cannot exceed 30 per cent of a post-secondary institution’s operating budget.

The VP Finance of the university, Dr. Keith Winter, told students in his charming Newfoundland accent that the university has to increase tuition because the government doesn’t give the university enough in operating grants. Well, with a $7 billion surplus one would think we might benefit from that thing our Premier always talks about. . . what’s it called again. . . ah oui, the "Alberta Advantage." Guess you have to be a cabinet minister and write a letter to a newspaper editor to get a chunk of that advantage…

So Dr. Winter brought this proposal to the planning and finance committee (PFC) of the university, which approved the increase. On Wed., Jan. 31, 2001 there was a Town Hall meeting in the MacEwan Hall Ballroom to discuss tuition consultation, government relations and other issues that concern students.

Which brings us to today, Thurs., Feb. 1, 2001, and the Board of Governors meeting, where tuition for next year will be voted on. Only three students sit on this board: two undergraduates and a graduate student. The number 3.7 per cent will most likely be approved. However, the SU will try to initiate discussion of zero and a less than 3.7 per cent increase.

Just so you all know, your SU does not support an increase in tuition.
If you would like more information please stop by the SU office or call 220-6551 or e-mail me at: agd@canada.com.

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