The SU is disappointed, but not surprised, that the University Board of Governors passed two undergraduate Exceptional Tuition Increases. The increases will affect students starting their studies in fall 2022 in Engineering and the Medical Doctor program. Tuition will increase by more than 30% and 15%, respectively. These increases will now go to the Minister of Advanced Education for final approval.
The SU has opposed these undergraduate increases for the following reasons:
– The SU has not received a full itemized list of program improvements funded by these increases.
– The SU has asked about how the university will measure program improvement over the next five years and how it will determine that the programs have actually improved.
– It is unclear how students feedback this fall has changed the increase proposals, or if it has at all. The SU believes this should be reflected in the proposal submitted to the Minister.
– Recent tuition increases should be considered as a package. An engineering student starting in 2022 will pay at least 50% more than a student who started in 2019.
– Students are having a hard time finding work. To increase tuition by this magnitude during a pandemic and economic downturn is poor timing and ignores the circumstances of students.
The SU was successful in advocating for a delay to approval when these proposals were initially brought forward in May. The SU cautioned the Board of Governors in May and June, that consultation with students was not adequate. The faculties conducted surveys in March and April but failed to tell students what the survey was about or link them in any way to massive tuition increases. It wasn’t until after students had left campus for the summer that the full details of tuition increases were revealed.
The Board of Governors declined to delay the process despite inadequate consultation. Thanks to SU advocacy, the Minister of Advanced Education rejected the proposals and sent them back to the university to conduct proper consultation. The university was forced to consult again throughout the first month of the fall semester and that consultation was more robust.
It remains unclear just how student feedback gained this fall by the university has changed the ETI proposals. The SU strongly believes that if no changes were made as a result of the redone student consultation, the university should note that in its final submission to the Minister.
To prevent such a situation from happening again, the SU is preparing a document that sets out what meaningful consultation looks like and what the roles and responsibilities are for both the SU and the university when it comes to consultation processes. Through this we will make sure that when the university consults with students, students are given the full details of what is occurring and ensure that consultation occurs while students are enrolled in classes.
The SU is anticipating further tuition increases this year, meaning costs for these programs and others will increase further and students will be asked to shoulder that burden going forward.