Edmonton, AB (December 9, 2019) - The University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) condemns action taken by the Government of Alberta to weaken the accountability measures and protections for students contained in the Tuition and Fees Regulation.
Late last week, an Order in Council quietly repealed parts of the Regulation to ease the process for post-secondary institutions to increase tuition for specific programs beyond the normal cap on tuition hikes. The amended Regulation allows institutions to make those decisions without consent from the associations that represent students in the affected programs. The Order in Council also removed the cap on annual increases to mandatory non-instructional fees (MNIFs). Both of these critical changes were made without consulting, or even notifying, the official student associations at Alberta’s six public universities.
“These changes speak volumes about this government’s level of commitment to the needs of post-secondary students,” said Akanksha Bhatnagar, UASU President. “The government continues to claim that students are the most important stakeholders in the post-secondary education system, but actions speak louder than words. Repealing key measures that made institutions accountable and protected students against excessive costs, without consulting or notifying those students, proves that our needs are far from being this government’s first priority.”
While the Order in Council will undoubtedly raise costs for students above and beyond the drastic measures already announced in Budget 2019, the UASU is also concerned by the lack of demonstrated need for these amendments. The exceptional tuition increase process, including student approval of proposals, and the cap on MNIF increases were brought into effect one year ago alongside Bill 19, which passed with support from all parties in the Legislature. Since then, neither institutions nor the government have raised any public concerns with the now-eliminated safeguards.
“This Order in Council is a solution in search of a problem,” said Adam Brown, UASU Vice-President (External). "Until recently, elected officials who are now part of this government publicly supported these controls and accountability measures for MNIFs and tuition. But now, with no explanation, they seem content to turn around and saddle students with unrestricted extra costs, while allowing institutions to get away with less transparency and accountability to their stakeholders.”
The Students’ Union is the official representative of more than 32,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
External Advocacy Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union