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NDP introduces bill to cap post-secondary tuition to inflation, extends tuition freezes another year

By Jason Herring, October 29 2018 —

The Alberta New Democratic Party began the fall sitting of the Alberta legislature on Oct. 29 by introducing Bill 19, legislation that would cap post-secondary tuition in the province to inflation.

Additionally, the existing Alberta tuition freeze will be extended through the 2019–20 school year, Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt announced in Edmonton Oct. 29.

According to Schmidt, Bill 19, An Act to Improve the Affordability and Accessibility of Post-Secondary Education, would amend the Post-Secondary Learning Act to implement a revised tuition framework, including tying future tuition increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If passed, the cap would go into effect during the 2020–21 academic year.

The bill would also require post-secondaries to make complete tuition costs clear to international students at the start of their degrees, let the provincial government regulate mandatory non-instructional fees and require the boards of each Alberta post-secondary institution to have at least two student representatives.

The bill is the culmination of the NDP’s review of post-secondary funding, first discussed by the party in fall 2015. Schmidt acknowledged the delay, saying it was necessary in order to complete consultation.

“I am aware that we are a little bit later than expected on delivering this legislation,” Schmidt said. “But we needed to take the time to get it right and I thank all of you for your patience and your continual reminders that we needed to get back to you.”

Tuition could only surpass the CPI cap in the case of an agreement between post-secondary administrators and students for individual programs, Schmidt says.

Andrew Bieman is the vice-president external of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University and the chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS). He said that CAUS is pleased with the results of the review.

“Students have experienced significant increases to their tuition over the past decade, which has a detrimental impact on their ability to access and afford post-secondary education,” Bieman said. “CAUS has continually advocated for the implementation of a long-term, predictable sustainable tuition model — one that allows students and their families to better plan for their future. Today, I’m happy to say that I think we’ve made some progress in that regard.”

The Alberta NDP held their 2018 convention in Edmonton this weekend. One proposed policy at the convention also addressed tuition, calling for the NDP to implement free tuition in the province. That policy was not debated on the floor.  

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