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SLC “disappointed” with university’s consultation concerning proposed tuition increase

By Enobong Ukpong, June 7 2021—

This week’s Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) meeting was held on June 1. Topics of note were the consultation of the exceptional tuition increase proposal and the presentation of the Post-Board of Governors report.

Despite reassurances that the tuition increases would go towards improving program quality, the SLC continued to express doubt and concern over the exceptional tuition increase proposals. If approved by the provincial government, these proposals would allow the tuition to be raised beyond the domestic tuition cap in select academic programs in the Fall 2022 semester.

The highest increases would be in the Schulich School of Engineering, with domestic Bachelor of Science students facing a 32 per cent increase, and international Bachelor of Engineering tuition increasing by 51 per cent. Because international tuition fees are unregulated, international tuition increases only need to be approved by the Board of Governors.

Many SLC members were concerned that proper consultations had not been taken with students about tuition increases. 

“I can definitely speak on behalf of SLC to say that we are disappointed with the way that the university has approached the Students’ Union, student clubs and other groups with the proposals only after the winter semester had finished,” said Marley Gilles, vice president external. “Students being asked to fill out a survey on tuition without the context of exceptional increases does not, in our view, meet the standard for meaningful consultation.” 

Others were concerned with the rapid rate thatSchulich School of Engineering increased its tuition. 

“If these exceptional tuition increases are implemented, from the eyes of the students it will be seen as a compounded tuition increase in Engineering of nearly 60 per cent,” said Taimur Akhtar, Schulich School of Engineering representative. “Does the university and Schulich believe that such increases are sustainable for students in such a short time frame?”

Points were also raised about the impact this would have on international students, whose tuition increases are the highest overall.

“International students do not work with Canadian currency,” said Khaled Elmalawany, another representative of the Schulich School of Engineering. He stated that the exchange rate between currencies is often unfavourable, making already high tuition increases even more dramatic.

“What attracted me towards U of C was its affordability and ranking, however, U of A [University of Alberta] has a higher ranking,” said Pragya Chopra, Faculty of Science representative. “So if you’re increasing our fees to their level, but our ranking is still lower, I believe that international students will be more inclined to go for U of A rather than U of C.”

The proposal will be edited with the SLC’s feedback and reviewed by the Finance and Property Committee on June 8.

Agendas, minutes and upcoming meetings for SLC can be found online.

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