By Mary Chan
The University of Calgary Students’ Union and administration have negotiated an agreement regarding the level of tuition increases students will see next year. Both parties refuse to release the exact numbers of the increase until Fri., Jan. 21.
The Gauntlet has recently discovered, however, that the recommendation will be for 65 per cent of the maximum allowable increase. This works out to $188.42 per year for 10 courses.
"We have essentially come up with a deal with administration on the level of tuition this year," said SU President Rob South. "It’s the lowest increase in 10 years."
This Friday, the university and SU will present the proposal to the university’s Planning and Finance Committee. The committee recommends the percentage of tuition increase to the Board of Governors every year.
"We’ve got a proposal going forward that we’re confident responds to many of the issues that were brought forward," said U of C Associate Vice-president Finance Richard Roberts. "The PFC is the committee that has the responsibility for listening to the proposal and making a decision on whether or not to bring it to the board."
If the proposed increase does reach the BoG level, South, who sits on the BoG, says he will not vote in favour of the increase, but he will recommend that other board members do.
"Students don’t want any tuition increase," he said. "And though it may be the only reasonable course of action, at this point in time, I don’t think it advances students’ causes to out and out endorse an increase."
The deal was the result of a consultation process that began in the summer, something most students were not aware of.
"The process going on behind closed doors is definitely a problem for us," said Revolutionary Anarchist Kollective member Wesley Morgan. "There’s no telling what goes on."
Morgan added, however, that any progress is good.
"Having less of a tuition increase helps," he said. "However, it’s not comparable to tuition being abolished."
South defended the secrecy, saying that given the strained relationship between last year’s SU and administration, the negotiations were a sensitive matter.
"It’s very hard to try and keep people informed of works in progress, particularly when you’re working on building a level of trust that hasn’t existed before," said South. "And to be frank, if we’d said we were looking at a deal early on, publicly, I think that would have worsened our position."
South offered two main reasons for consulting with administration: the BoG wanted the SU and administration to work together; and the university has shown an increased willingness to work with the SU.
The agreement is not a written one, but South insists it is solid.
"Both sides know how strong the repercussions would be if the deal was broken," he said. "I don’t think the board would tolerate either organization trying to do something backhanded here."
Roberts sees the agreement as a compromise reached after much consultation.
"We worked very hard with the students to really get a good understanding of what the students’ issues are and also communicate where the university’s coming from," he said. "We hope that the board will agree with us, that we’ve got the right balance going forward."
South still encourages students to come to the Feb. 4 BoG meeting, which takes place at 8 a.m. in the RGO room of Scurfield Hall.