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Student inflation supports are welcome relief, but students remain at breaking point
Calgary – Over the last several months, the SU has advocated for financial relief for students. Students have told us they are at a breaking point and making difficult choices between their education, food, and housing. The SU is pleased to see our advocacy efforts pay off with increased and additional supports for students.
“Today’s announcement of supports is positive but this cannot be the end of the discussion when it comes to affordability and accessibility to post-secondary in Alberta,” says SU President Nicole Schmidt. “Since 2019, students have endured the largest increases to tuition in Alberta’s history. Today’s announcement, while welcome, is a drop in the bucket when compared to the additional costs students are facing due to government cuts and the inflation crisis.”
The average domestic UCalgary student is paying over $1,200 more each year for their education by comparison to 2019. The situation is even more dire for international students who, on average, are paying more than $6,000 more annually than they did in 2019. These numbers also do not include mandatory fee increases and an upcoming 5.5% domestic increase and 10% international increase to tuition this fall.
A one-time increase to the Alberta Student Grant is a positive step, but the reach of this program is limited and dependant on family income, regardless of parental financial support. The provincial government have left out a significant number of students from this temporary support.
Many students may not be receiving financial support from parents for their education or cost of living but may also not qualify for the Alberta Student Grant because of household or family income. This means that many truly low-income students will not qualify for the support announced today.
The 2% cap on tuition increase is welcome but comes after UCalgary students have endured a 33% increase to tuition and 20% to mandatory fees since 2019. The tuition cap also does not help international students who have seen tuition increase at a rate close to 10% per year for the last four years.
“International students have been completely left behind by this government. This is concerning as Alberta attempts to attract more international students to its institutions,” says SU VP External Mateusz Salmassi. “International tuition remains unregulated and today’s announcement makes it easy for universities to continue using international students as cash cows to fund university operations. This needs to change.”
Changing of the student loan interest rate back to prime is positive, but it was the UCP government that increased this rate in the first place. It is positive to see them reverse this bad policy, but interest rates never should have increased.
The Government of Alberta should be taking further affordability action through student financial aid by rebalancing student financial aid to a more equal mix as exists in several provinces, including MacKinnon Report comparator provinces like B.C. and Ontario.
The UCP government should also take action by bringing in a student provincial jobs program. Students want to work but are struggling to find summer employment opportunities since the cancellation of the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) in 2019. A Students’ Union survey found that 1 in 5 students could not find full-time summer work in the summers of 2021 and 2022. Overall youth unemployment remains double the provincial rate.
Heading towards the provincial election in May, the SU will be engaging in a conversation with Calgarians and Albertans about the importance of post-secondary education and what can be done to ensure education is accessible and affordable as well as the value post-secondary institutions provide to our city and province.
Media inquiries may be directed to:
Mike Brown, Manager Communications & Government Relations
University of Calgary Students’ Union
403-560-0577 or Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org