As oil prices hit highs not seen since 2014, students are also seeing the highest tuition in Alberta’s history. With the budget showing a surplus for the first time in a number of years, thanks to resource revenues, post-secondary students remain overlooked by this UCP government. Instead, students are seeing skyrocketing tuition and plummeting summer employment opportunities.
After several consecutive years of deep cuts to post-secondary institutions, totaling more than $600 million across the province, the government has failed to step up for students once again. Now is the time to re-invest in post-secondary education and ensure that students and graduates stop leaving the province and, instead, remain in Alberta.
Budget 2022 boasts that Alberta students paid over $1.6 billion in tuition fees, noting that this is an increase of $149 million over last year. The government projects students will pay for a further increase to tuition of $100 million by the end of this current fiscal plan. Students are paying much more for their education without a corresponding increase in quality, thanks to provincial cuts.
“If the UCP government is serious about maintaining a quality post-secondary system, they need to step up and fund it,” said SU President, Nicole Schmidt. “Students are seeing a decline in the quality of their education while paying significantly more tuition. The blame lies directly at the feet of this government. It’s not surprising young people are fleeing Alberta.”
University of Calgary students have seen their tuition rise by more than 25% over the last four years. This is directly the result of deep provincial cuts that have left students, and their families, covering these expenses. The Minister approved tuition increases in programs, like UCalgary Engineering, of more than 30% for students enrolling this September. This is not sustainable. The province has failed to support students with predictable funding and an affordable education.
The UCP government has also failed students by not implementing a program to support employers to hire students for summer work. In the summer of 2021, one in four UCalgary students surveyed were unable to find full-time summer work. The government’s Jobs Now program does not incentivize student summer employment. Students use the summer months to save money for their expenses while also gaining useful job skills for after graduation.
“The government has made it difficult for students to find summer employment,” said President Schmidt. “The UCP is raising costs for students and not providing any support to help cover those skyrocketing bills. The Premier ran on a promise of jobs, he and his team have broken that promise to students.”
The UCP must commit to predictably and adequately fund post-secondary education while also supporting students to find work.
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