A group representing Alberta’s university students is asking the government to develop a long-term plan that will make post-secondary education more affordable.
The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) ran a campaign over the past two months, where it asked students to write letters and emails to Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt explaining how making tuition more affordable would impact them.
In 2015, the province instituted a temporary tuition freeze as it reviewed the cost of post-secondary education in Alberta. The government estimated 250,000 full- and part-time students and apprentices would save roughly $16 million a year through the freeze.
The student council said it appreciates the tuition freeze but called it a “Band-Aid solution,” and is concerned of the negative outcomes for students if a long-term solution is not developed prior to the end of the freeze.
“We don’t want students in the province to see significant increases once it’s done, so the only way to protect students in Alberta is through legislative tuition in the Post-Secondary Learning Act,” CAUS vice-chair Amanda Leblanc said.
The student council wants amendments to the act that would include a cap on tuition to make it more predictable, accessible and affordable for students – “tying all future increases to the consumer price index, closing loopholes and stricter regulation models for ancillary fees.”
“What this means for students is we don’t have to worry about being within regulation, which means it can be changed whenever the government wants to change it, instead it has to go through the legislature,” CAUS chair Andrew Bieman said.
“You have a little more sustainable and predictable tuition plans for students.”
A recent report suggests tuition fees for full-time, domestic university students in Alberta is less than the national average in all recorded undergraduate fields of study.
CAUS said 1,500 students across Alberta participated in its Tuition Forecast campaign. The student council delivered the student’s written letters to Schmidt’s office in the legislature building.