BUDGET HISTORY: How does $4,000 per year for tuition sound?

By Carey Du Gray

If the university has its way, students will son pay a lot more for tuition–thousands of dollars more.

The provincial government is in the process of drawing up a new tuition fee policy for Alberta’s post-secondary institutions, to be released in late October. Currently, universities can charge tuition equal to no more than 20 per cent of their operating expenses. The new policy is expected to raise the “cap” to between 26 and 31 per cent–meaning tuition could jump form $2,390 per year to more than $4,000.

“You can’t take $32 million out (of the university’s budget) and expect things to go the same way,” explained Vice-President (finance and services) Dr. Keith “Sparky” Winter, referring to the on-going cuts in provincial funding. “We want the cap raised. We need the ability to increase our revenue beyond what it is.”

The existing tuition fee policy limits annual tuition increases to $200 per year per full-time student, based on 1991 dollars.

Student leaders are worried that if the new policy (to be released at the end of October) doesn’t contain a similar provision, universities will raise tuition to the new maximum level–resulting in a large one-time jump, without a corresponding increase in student loan limits.

“I think that’s a genuine fear,” explained Students’ Union President Jason Allen. “The university has a budgetary shortfall to make up in 1995/96 and one of the options I think they will look at if there is no annual increase is making as much of that deficit up with tuition fee increases in one year as they can.”

Next year, the university will enter year two of a three-year, 21 per cent reduction in provincial funding. This year, the U of C cut 11 per cent out of its operating budget; next year it will have to find another seven per cent.

Allen went to Edmonton last week with other student representatives to lobby Advanced Education Minister Jack Ady to give student associations the ability to negotiate tuition increases at their institutions.

In exchange for this, student representatives said they would agree to 26 per cent as the new tuition cap as long as the cap remained in place for a minimum of four years and students were guaranteed annual tuition fee increases of no more than 10 per cent.


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