U of C students demand pause on planned tuition hikes

The University of Calgary.

Student leaders are accusing the University of Calgary administration of keeping them in the dark over tuition hikes and have requested more consultation be done before the changes take effect.

Members of the University of Calgary's Student Union (SU) said they had an opportunity to discuss the proposed fee increases for students in engineering and medicine on Tuesday night.

At the meeting, student leaders asked administrators why they were not informed about the hikes, which would see medical students pay 15.7 per cent more and engineering students 32 and 51 per cent more for domestic and international students, respectively.

In a release, the SU said the school admitted it did survey students in March and April, but did not inform them it was about an "exceptional increase."

"This is like government putting out a survey on building a new highway without saying where the highway is going or how much it will cost. Students were left in the dark on what the surveys were about," said SU president Nicole Schmidt in a statement.

"I'm not sure how the university can claim they've conducted meaningful consultation on tuition increases without saying by how much or why tuition is increasing."

It was only in May, when classes had finished and many students left for the summer break, that the university released details about the increases to tuition.

The SU says the university also had ample time to seek consultation on the tuition increases, between September and June, and then submit them to the province.

"This 'kneecapped' the ability of the SU to advocate for students and denied students the opportunity to provide feedback on the detailed proposal," said Schmidt.

As a result, student leaders are calling on the university to delay the proposed increases until meaningful consultation can be made with students when they return to class in September.

If not that, the SU asks Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides to delay the proposals until at least the fall.

The University of Calgary in the meantime says it is still consulting on the tuition increases with multiple parties, including students.

"If approved, funding generated by these proposals would improve the quality of programming, enhance the student experience, and provide scholarships and bursaries in accordance with the provincial government's tuition framework," said UCalgary in an emailed statement.

If the proposals go ahead, the tuition for the aforementioned programs will increase in September 2022.