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CAUS plans next step in campaign against market modifiers

By Scott Strasser, November 6 2014 —

Members of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) are asking minister of innovation and advanced education Donald Scott to turn down market modifier proposals at Albertan universities.

Student unions at the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Lethbridge and Mount Royal University wrote formal letters to Scott outlining why they believe market modifiers should be rejected.

The U of C’s SU wrote a letter to Scott outlining how market modifiers will affect student access and affordability.

The letter showed how student feedback in the faculty of engineering on market modifiers has been negative.

The U of C proposed a $170 per course increase for undergraduate engineering, $250 per course for law and $300 for the Masters of Business Administration program.

In a recent survey for the Engineering Students’ Society (ESS), 83 per cent of respondents said they are against the current market modifier proposal. Seventy-two per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with the current quality of the U of C’s engineering programs.

More than 1,100 U of C engineering students signed a petition rejecting the market modifier proposal this October.

“I think we all have a pretty strong case. Especially with the new minister, there’s a lot of possibility,” Students’ Union vice-president external Levi Nilson said.

CAUS chair Navneet Khinda said market modifiers allow the government to create a loophole around tuition caps tied to the consumer price index (CPI).

“No matter what we call it, this is a tuition increase that would break government promises,” Khinda said. “It’s time for the government to keep its promise of limiting tuition increases to inflation and to close off loopholes.”

The CPI measures inflation in consumer prices. Since 2006, tuition increases in Alberta have been tied to the CPI rate.

The SU will vote in favour of a 2.2 per cent tuition increase this year, but will vote against the market modifier proposals.

“We’re lucky to have the tuition cap. With that cap and showing we support it, we’re not going to see school-wide increases of upwards of 10, 15, 20 per cent, which was the case before the cap was implemented,” Nilson said.

Nilson said CAUS wants to host a protest against market modifiers in Edmonton mid-November.

“The next step is making sure we have enough people to go up to Edmonton. We’re still working on the logistics. It’s not confirmed yet,” Nilson said.

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