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SLC discusses student consultation guidelines with university administration

By Enobong Ukpong, October 5 2021—

Last week’s Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) meeting was held on Sept. 27. The main topic of discussion was the third round of the Exceptional Tuition Increase consultation.

These consultations concern a proposal to allow the tuition to be raised beyond the domestic tuition cap in select academic programs in the Fall 2022 semester. The most notable increases would be in the Schulich School of Engineering, with domestic Bachelor of Science students facing a 32 per cent increase, and the international Bachelor of Engineering tuition increasing by 51 per cent. 

“The Exceptional Tuition Increase proposals are intended to improve the quality of the programs for the benefit of the students,” said Dr. Terry Balser, provost and vice-provost academic. 

Balser says that the Ministry of Education liked the consultation process of the university and the proposal, but the consultation came too late in the academic year. The Ministry has also requested additional detail in how the revenue from the tuition will be spent.

Students’ Union (SU) President Nicole Schmidt said that the SU is working on trying to figure out ways to financially support students in light of the tuition increase. 

“In Alberta, it’s very costly to be a student currently,” she said. “So we obviously want to make sure that students do have access to post secondary education.” 

Schmidt said that the SU wants to ensure that students are able to submit their feedback on issues that may arise in the future, but also ongoing issues that are still being debated. 

“Some examples of issues that students haven’t been consulted on in the past — the Exceptional Tuition Increases, and also the privatization of the bookstore,” she said. “It’s really important that students are consulted on decisions that affect them and they do have a chance to give their feedback to the university.”  

Schmidt said that the SU will be creating a consultation guideline document, possibly in connection with the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) to outline what proper consultation looks like moving forward. 

“With this document, I want to ensure that students are heard while also setting boundaries for the university as to when it makes sense for students to be informed on something rather than just consulted on it.”  

The Cumming School of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering recently had town halls where students from respective faculties were invited to share their thoughts on the Exceptional Tuition increases. Notably, only 21 people were present in the Cumming School of Medicine town hall.

The proposals will be discussed at the Board of Governors for a second time before being reviewed by the provincial government.

“As of now, it sounds like the consultation process has been more thorough,” said Schmidt. “But we just want to ensure right now that the administration is actually incorporating the feedback that they’ve received from students into the final proposal.” 

Balser echoed the same sentiments from the SU during the meeting. 

“I have said before that I am committed to meaningful consultation, so I would welcome an opportunity to work with you to find a way forward,” said Balser.

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

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