After three years of a tuition freeze, Alberta students are wondering what will happen after the thaw. When first elected, the Government of Alberta announced it would review tuition, fees, and the funding model, and froze tuition for a year. Each year since an extension has been announced, sometimes with the government filling the gap in funding, sometimes not. Most recently, in November 2017, the Government of Alberta announced that it would be extending the tuition freeze until the end of the 2018/19 school year. However, despite an initial promise to release a new tuition policy in Fall 2017, the results of the reviews have not yet been announced.
The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) launched their campaign to remind the Government of Alberta and Minister of Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, that while the weather can be unpredictable, tuition shouldn’t be. Domestic students in Alberta have had their tuition and fees frozen since 2015 but this is not a long-term solution and students are nervous about what will happen without a long-term, legislated solution.
"Students in other provinces of Canada have seen massive jumps in tuition once their freezes were lifted," said Reed Larsen, VP External of the University of Alberta Students’ Union and Chair of CAUS. "CAUS calls on the government to take action that would ensure tuition remains accessible, sustainable, and predictable in Alberta for years to come.” This would be done by putting tuition regulation back into the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA).
Tuition makes up only one element of the unpredictable cost of education. CAUS further calls on the government to carry through on their commitment to looking at program-specific tuition increases and mandatory non-instructional fees. Alberta has the highest compulsory fees for university students in Canada. These fees can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a student’s education and dramatically impact the affordability of post-secondary education.
VP External of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union and Vice-Chair of CAUS, Conner Peta adds "the cost of a post-secondary education in Alberta continues to drastically rise and these fees dramatically impact that cost. We cannot continue to expect students to go into their degrees with no idea of what it will cost.”
CAUS pointed out that the Government of Alberta will be announcing the budget this spring and calls on the government to make major and lasting changes to ensure post-secondary education remains accessible, predictable, and affordable for all Albertans.