Newly Approved 17-45% Tuition Hikes Will Damage Equitable Access to EducationNews Staff - Wed Mar 09, 2022
The UASU is deeply disappointed to learn that the provincial government has approved all the University of Alberta's exceptional tuition increase proposals, ranging from 17% to 45% for specific undergraduate programs.
"We've engaged with rushed and inconsistent consultations in good faith since last spring," said UASU President Rowan Ley. "We've fought hard to get the University to take student needs more seriously. While we've succeeded in taking the edge off several of these colossal tuition hikes, this decision will damage equitable access to education and contribute to a dangerous brain drain. Between skyrocketing tuition, Budget 2022's new round of post-secondary cuts, and Alberta's notoriously stingy student grants, prospective students will find whole fields of study increasingly out of reach. This decision was the wrong one, and we're evaluating options to respond."
All current domestic students will face another 7% increase in tuition as part of a 22.5% three-year increase. Thanks to this new decision, instead of the 7% hike, incoming domestic students in the following undergraduate programs will face 17–45% higher tuition. Within two to five years, depending on program length, the new tuition rates will apply to all domestic students in these programs.
Tuition for the BSc Eng (Engineering) program will increase by 24.5% ($1,790) for incoming domestic students. Due to aggressive student advocacy, the faculty eventually committed to allocate 15% of new revenue to financial aid. Once the new tuition rate applies to all domestic students, the UASU estimates the new advocacy-driven set-aside will save students $822,000 per year, partially blunting the impact of this huge tuition increase.
Tuition for the JD (Law) program will increase by 29% ($3,393) for incoming domestic students. Committed student advocacy, including strong work from the Indigenous Law Students' Association, forced the faculty to reduce its original proposal (45%). Once the new tuition rate applies to all domestic students, the UASU estimates the advocacy-driven reduction from 45% to 29% will save students $826,000 per year, partially blunting the impact of this increase.
Tuition for the BCom (Business) program will increase by 22% ($1,761) for incoming domestic students. Despite persistent advocacy, the faculty has neither reduced the increase nor set aside additional funds for student aid.
Tuition for the BSc Radiation Therapy program will increase by 20% ($1,218) for incoming domestic students. Due to student advocacy, the department committed 20% of new revenue to financial aid. Once the new tuition rate applies to all domestic students in this small program, the UASU estimates the new advocacy-driven set-aside will save students $10,800 per year.
Tuition for the BSc Medical Laboratory Science program will increase by 17% ($1,034) for incoming domestic students. This small program asked for the lowest exceptional increase and set aside a respectable amount for financial aid early in the process.
Tuition for the DDS and APDDS (Dentistry) programs will increase by $9,243 (40% and $16.19%, respectively) for incoming domestic students. Thanks to student advocacy, the faculty agreed to reduce the APDDS increase from 40% to 16.19%, and to increase financial aid set-asides by roughly 1/3. Once the new tuition rates apply to all domestic students, the UASU estimates advocacy-driven student savings at $821,000 per year, somewhat reducing the impact of the tuition hikes.
Tuition for the PharmD (Pharmacy) program will increase by 44% ($5,029) for incoming domestic students. Thanks to student advocacy, the faculty doubled the financial aid set-aside, which will eventually save students $261,000 per year and reduce the impact of this huge tuition increase.
In total, this past year's student advocacy (including work from the UASU, Faculty Associations, Department Associations, and other student organizations) will save students at least $2.74 million per year once these egregious tuition hikes apply to all domestic students.
"There's no world in which a twenty to forty-five percent tuition increase is acceptable," said Ley. "And the government should have rejected at least some of the proposals for failure to meet basic regulatory and consultation standards along the way. Unfortunately, the government and the University decided to balance the budget on the backs of students. We'll do our best to hold the University accountable for all the ambitious promises they used to justify this decision."
About the University of Alberta Students’ Union
The UASU is the official representative of more than 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
External Relations Specialist
University of Alberta Students’ Union