By Kristy Koehler, July 23 2020—
On July 13, University of Calgary Students’ Union president Frank Finley sent a letter to Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides, outlining a series of asks to help support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Amid this global economic crisis, students in Alberta have been asked to shoulder a greater proportion of the cost of their education,” said Finley in the letter, provided to the Gauntlet.
“While students understand there is a cost to their education and are willing to pay their share of this cost, allowing tuition to increase by up to 7% per year for the next three years places an undue financial hardship on students. De-regulating tuition increases for international students has resulted in a planned increase of 10% at the University of Calgary for the 2020-21 academic year.”
First on the list of four asks is to rescind the amendment to the Tuition Regulation which allows for tuition to increase by up to seven per cent per year and to re-regulate international student tuition increases.
The second of the asks is to provide emergency financial aid directly to students. This funding, argues Finley, is necessary for students who may face additional costs of accessing the technology required by the new remote-learning environment. He also argues that funds will be necessary for students to purchase personal protective equipment for in-person classes.
The letter also requests that the Government of Alberta reverse the cuts to the Campus Alberta Grants and provide emergency funding to institutions with the intention that tuition be lowered for students.
Finally, Finley notes that “deferred maintenance at the University of Calgary currently sits at $556 million” and calls on the government to direct some of the infrastructure investment included in Alberta’s economic recovery plan to address this growing burden.
“We expect the Government of Alberta to provide aid to post-secondary students as well, and we are disappointed that more has not yet been done to support current and future students in our province,” said Finley in the letter.
The letter ends with a request to meet with the Minister and his team prior to the commencement of classes in September.
Laurie Chandler, Press Secretary to the Minister of Advanced Education, provided the following information:
“One of the asks is to re-regulate international student tuition. [The SU] seem to be under the impression that government has recently de-regulated international student tuition, thereby allowing schools to increase it by as much as they like. The reality is that international student tuition has never been regulated. No provinces regulate it.
“However, starting this academic year, all PSIs in Alberta must give all new international students a tuition guarantee in their offer of admission. This means the students will know how much they have to pay for their full four years. In other words, they are not subject to unexpected increases and can do their best to plan ahead.”
With regard to the requested meeting between the SU and the Minister, Chandler noted that the scheduler will be reaching out to set up a meeting before school starts and that the SU should hear back shortly.