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Students’ Union finalizes new market modifier policy

By Fabian Mayer, January 29 2015 —

The Students’ Union passed a new policy on market modifiers Jan. 20, saying what the SU expects of university administration before it would consider approving a market modifier proposal.   

The policy suggests the university spend more time demonstrating the necessity of a market modifier. This includes demonstrating student demand for better programs and a clear disparity in program quality between the U of C and other institutions in Canada.

The policy also states that the university should provide a clear explanation of how market modifier revenue would be spent.

The SU wants to see broad consultation with students in the form of town halls and data collection through surveys.

SU vice-president external Levi Nilson thinks the new policy, which replaced a policy adopted in 2012, will help the SU deal with market modifiers in the future. 

“The old [policy] didn’t really give us any flexibility to have any negotiation with the university about what we’d like to see,” he said. 

Market modifiers allow universities in Alberta to raise tuition in certain faculties beyond the rate of inflation. 

The new policy is largely based on the SU’s experience advocating against market modifiers in late 2014, when market modifiers were debated. 

Nilson was unhappy with the consultation process when market modifiers were used to increase tuition in the engineering and law programs at the U of C in the fall semester.

He said the new policy will create better communication between the SU and administration.

“It really allows us to have clear expectations for what we want for consultation and how we expect the university to engage with students,” Nilson said. 

U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall believes that the university’s consultation on market modifiers last year was adequate. 

“We talked to the students at the tuition and fee consultation committee much more than is required by the ministry,” Marshall said. “Having talked to the government, they held up our process as gold standard.”

With the Alberta government’s financial problems, Nilson said he is worried about market modifiers being used again in the future. Marshall did not say whether administration will make use of them again. 

“Market modifiers have been done twice. I am not sure if market modifiers are going to be entertained into the future. At this point I think it’s hypothetical,” Marshall said. 

Marshall praised the SU’s advocacy efforts surrounding the issue of market modifiers. 

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