2023 Alberta Budget: Budget 2023 misses opportunity to provide real, needed support to students

2023 Alberta Budget: Budget 2023 misses opportunity to provide real, needed support to students 150 150 Michael Brown

CALGARY – Today’s provincial budget misses the mark and loses an opportunity to enhance the lacklustre inflationary supports announced by the province earlier this month. Budget 2023 continues a familiar theme with this provincial government: Students are left out and left behind.


Earlier in February, the provincial government announced disappointing student supports, including a cap to tuition increases, not starting until 2024, and an increase to the Alberta Student Grant. These measures are too little too late for students who have faced the fastest and largest increases to tuition and other expenses in Alberta’s history, thanks directly to provincial cuts. The SU estimates that tuition alone has increased by 33% since 2019 and by about 40% for international students. This equates to about $1,200 and $6,000 more per year for domestic and international students, respectively. These increases come with no increase to education quality. Budget 2023 fails to expand supports for students or make the recently announced measures effective.


“The SU has made it clear to the provincial government that students are at a breaking point. They haven’t listened,” says SU President Nicole Schmidt. “Students are choosing between their education and basics like food and housing. This should not happen in Alberta. This government has failed to address the concerns of students and it’s clear that this budget is no different. The province can and should do better.”


The programs announced by the province also leave huge loopholes for universities to exploit. Students pay mandatory fees in addition to tuition. These fees are not included in the provincial tuition increase cap. This means that universities will simply make up for the tuition cap by increasing mandatory fees at a faster rate. Mandatory fees have increased by about 20% since 2019. International student tuition is also not capped, meaning university administration can continue to use international students as cash cows to fund operations.


Very few students will receive the provincial financial supports announced earlier this month, as those supports are tied to family or household income, rather than the student’s income alone. Students who are not actually receiving support from their families for their education may not qualify for these new programs.


“The provincial government has implemented a double standard,” says President Schmidt. “They have tied student supports to the income of parents and phase out these supports much sooner than other Alberta families. After neglecting student needs and increasing student costs for four years, this government is trying to make up for it with one swing. This isn’t good enough.”


Most students will not be eligible for this provincial support. For example, a family of four will receive less or no support after their income tops $66,000. By comparison the general inflationary supports announced last fall stop at a family income of $180,000.


Media Inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown

Manager, Communications & Government Relations // 403-560-0577

Student inflation supports are welcome relief, but students remain at breaking point

Student inflation supports are welcome relief, but students remain at breaking point 150 150 Michael Brown

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

Statement: Free Speech on Campus

Statement: Free Speech on Campus 150 150 Michael Brown

The Students’ Union (SU) stands with our counterparts from the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union as they push back strongly against hate on their campus.


U of L students made it clear that there is no place for hate on their campus. As Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said earlier this week “it should be for students to make the final decision about whether to listen to a speech or not.” U of L students stood up, held firm, and made it clear that they had no interest in hearing a lecture that denies the genocidal nature of residential schools and the lasting harm these institutions have done to Indigenous peoples. That decision should be respected.


Universities are bastions of free speech and expression. However, just like all freedoms, there are limits. Just as Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms puts reasonable limitations on rights and freedoms, there should be limits on our campuses.


Denying the genocidal nature of residential schools and suggesting the contemporary civil rights movement is destroying post-secondary institutions is an antagonistic position designed to incite hate and discrimination.


Administration at the University of Lethbridge deserves credit for listening to students and making the difficult, but correct decision to cancel the lecture.


University of Calgary administration could learn from this example to better manage speech and expression on campus. For years, University of Calgary administration has allowed anti-abortion demonstrators on campus in areas that students must walk through to attend their classes. Protestors bring graphic imagery intended incite anger from members of the campus community. This has led to ongoing harassment of students as students have reported being shouted at and followed.


The SU has asked the university to take action and follow its own harassment policy when speech includes harassment and discrimination. To date, the University of Calgary has done nothing with regard to these demonstrations, and protestors continue to create an intimidating and hostile educational environment for students.


The SU renews its calls for the university to restrict graphic and misleading imagery and to ensure that students are not shouted at, harassed, or followed by protestors. The SU calls for the university to take action and ensure debate of ideas is meaningful, not antagonistic and not rooted in harassment.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown, External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union

403-560-0577 or


Undergraduate Research, Stress Less Events, and World Cup at the Den

Undergraduate Research, Stress Less Events, and World Cup at the Den 150 150 Gene Baines

Hello UCalgary,

I know it’s crunch time right now, but if you need a quick break we’ve got a few events to help you recharge before exams, and a few more updates to look forward to in the new year.

Undergraduate Research Symposium (Nov. 23 – 24 in MacEwan Conference and Event Centre/MacEwan Hall)

The SU’s 17th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium is happening this week. On Wednesday, we are hosting six different research workshops with topics like how to find research opportunities and even presentation techniques. On Thursday, we celebrate the undergraduate research award winners with an all-day drop-in event in MacEwan Hall. Drop by any time beginning at 10:00 a.m. to see short presentations from across all faculties! See the full schedule of presentations on our website.

StressLess Week is next week (Nov. 28 – Dec. 2)

StressLess Week returns to Mac Hall just in time. Drop by the North Courtyard every day for fun activities like aromatherapy, painting, and origami. Or join us in That Empty Space for a free meditation session on Tuesday, and yoga on Thursday. And last, but never least, we’ve got Pet Therapy on both Monday and Friday.

SU Living Room (Dec. 7)

Take a study break with us! Drop by That Empty Space any time Dec. 7 for free movies, snacks, and fun activities. We’re showing Lightyear at 10 a.m., Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings at 12 p.m., and The Incredibles at 2:30 p.m.

Q Centre presents Intro to Dungeons and Dragons (Nov. 30)

Q Centre is hosting an intro to Dungeons and Dragons on Nov. 30 from 4 – 6 p.m. Beginners are welcome – come and learn the basics of character creation and gameplay!

Catch World Cup Games at The Den

The Black Lounge will be showing World Cup games at noon weekdays beginning Nov. 21.

Textbook Consignment

Are you ready to say goodbye to some old textbooks? Consignment will be happening in the North Courtyard from 11AM – 2PM the week of Dec 12-16 BUT consignment can be brought directly to Bound & Copied during regular operating hours; 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

Locker Rentals

It feels like winter is going to stick around – are you tired of lugging a heavy jacket around campus? We’ve got lockers in convenient locations all over campus, and you can rent one through your student centre.

Are you already thinking about 2023? So are we.

Clubs Week

Clubs Week returns Jan. 16 – 19 in the Mac Hall North and South Courtyards.

SU General Election

Have you ever thought about taking on a leadership role at the SU? Official nomination packages will be available Jan. 23, but in the meantime, we’re regularly updating our election webpages with important information and deadlines. If you have questions about life as an SU elected official or campaigning, we are also hosting pre-election workshops Jan. 24 and 25.

Good luck on your exams! You’re only a few weeks away from a well-deserved break.

All the best,

Nicole Schmidt
President, Students’ Union

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University refuses to allow students to be consulted on upcoming tuition increases

University refuses to allow students to be consulted on upcoming tuition increases 150 150 Michael Brown

Calgary – The Students’ Union is sounding alarm bells after University of Calgary administration has refused to allow the SU to discuss with undergraduate students on upcoming increases to tuition and fees. As a result, students have not yet been made aware of the details of upcoming increases.


The Finance and Property Committee of the UCalgary Board of Governors will vote on tuition increases on November 21. It is not until November 29th that the university will speak to elected student leaders. The item will then go to the Board of Governors on December 9. In previous years the university has held student town halls on tuition and attended the SU’s student council much earlier in the process. This has not occurred this year.


“The university will essentially be approving the tuition and fee increases before students even know about them,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt. “The university has shared the proposals privately with the SU but is unwilling to allow us to consult with students about these increases.”


In a 2021 judicial review of tuition increases at NAIT, brought by its student association, the judge ruled that consultation must go beyond the simple creation of the consultation mechanism and two student council meetings.


“The university has failed to meet its obligations under the Tuition and Fees Regulation and Alberta Tuition Framework,” says SU VP External Mateusz Salmassi. “By blindsiding students with tuition and fee increases and failing to report, as required, on how fee revenue is being spent, the university is being secretive and unaccountable to its largest stakeholder.”


Alberta’s Tuition and Fee Regulation requires the university to report specifically on how mandatory fee revenue, collected from students, is being spent. The university has failed to produce a report on two of its three mandatory fees.


The SU has asked for the vote on the tuition and fee proposals at committee and the December 9th Board of Governors meeting to be delayed to ensure that students are meaningfully consulted. The university has refused both of these requests, allowing only for elected student representatives to be able to receive the tuition and fee increase details.


As a result, the SU has written to Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides asking him to intervene and ensure that students are engaged and consulted. This is not the first time that the SU has asked the Minister to intervene due to inadequate consultation. In 2021, the university also failed to adequately consult with students on Exceptional Tuition Increases, resulting in the university being required, by the Minister, to re-start the consultation process properly and delay the government approval of large tuition increases to two faculties.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown, External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union

403-560-0577 or


Illustration of group of people on cell phones

2022 Students’ Union By-Elections – The Results are In

2022 Students’ Union By-Elections – The Results are In 1934 1004 Michael Brown

Calgary – The Students’ Union is today announcing the results for the 2022 By-Election. Those who have been elected will join the 80th Students’ Legislative Council and will serve until the end of April 2023. In addition, students were asked to vote in a referendum on the topic of the SU Health and Dental plan. Those results are also being announced.

In the three-person race for Vice-President External Mateusz Salmassi won with 39% of the vote.

Faculty representatives were also elected for the Haskayne School of Business, Faculty of Kinesiology, Schulich School of Engineering. The vacancy for the UCalgary Board of Governors Student-at-Large role was also filled by election today.

For the Haskayne School of Business, Aly Samji was elected by business students with 64% of the vote.

Over in Kinesiology, students elected Jessie Dinh with nearly 67% of the vote.

The two students running for the two previously vacant faculty representative positions at the Schulich School of Engineering were each successful in achieving a majority of ‘yes’ votes required to be elected to the role. Jacob Artuso and Abhari Limbu received a majority of ‘yes’ votes and were elected.

Finally, Muntaha Aamir was elected to the UCalgary Board of Governors with 50.6%.

Students were asked to vote on proposed amendments to the SU constitution in relation to the SU Health and Dental Plan. The cost of the health and dental plan is currently subsidized by the SU  and the viability of the plan is at risk. The proposed amendment was to allow the Health and Dental Plan fees to increase with the Consumer Price Index by up to 4% per year to keep up with inflation, without requiring further referendums each time an increase is necessary. Students voted in support of this with nearly 69% of the vote.

In all, 2,132 students voted in the 2022 By-Election. The results announced today are provisional and become official on October 24, 2022.

The roles of Vice-President Operations and Finance and Faculty Representative for the Faculty of Social Work will remain vacant and may be filled by appointment at a later date.

All SU elected positions will go up for election in March 2023 to determine the student leaders who will make up the 81st Students’ Legislative Council.


Inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown
External Communications Specialist
Cell: 403-560-0577

SU Advocacy Blog – September

SU Advocacy Blog – September 150 150 Michael Brown

Back to school has been a busy time for the SU, and advocacy throughout September is no exception. The SU has been in the media throughout September talking primarily about students heading back to class, their expectations, and the housing crisis in Calgary.

Starting in September and continuing through the fall semester, SU staff and elected officials will be hearing from the university on their plans for tuition. The SU will be advocating for students to be given a break after three consecutive years of increases well above inflation. We have heard from students that they are not only broke but at a financial breaking point.

The SU closed its advocacy survey which will help inform our discussions with the university around tuition and will be valuable to our efforts with the three orders of government as well. We heard that students do not feel they are getting good value for their tuition dollars and the quality of education has not increased despite students paying at least 25% more in tuition since 2019.

We also heard that students want more accountability from the university on how student dollars are spent through mandatory fees like the student services fee and the Dinos athletics fee. Stay tuned for updates on this work.

In September, SLC discussed a document formalizing what the SU, and students, expect for meaningful consultation from the university when it comes to tuition and other issues that affect students. The SU will be sending this to the Provost to formalize a consistent consultation process.

SLC also discussed a series of issue sheets that will be used to advocate to government, primarily the Government of Alberta. As Alberta heads into a provincial election in May 2023, the SU intends to be active to raise the profile of student and post-secondary issues. Stay tuned for more.

Notice of Election: By-Election 2022

Notice of Election: By-Election 2022 150 150 Gene Baines

Notice is hereby given that an election will be held for the filling of the following offices:

Vice President External (1)
Board of Governors Representative (1)
Faculty of Social Work Representative (1)
Faculty of Kinesiology Representative (1)
Haskayne School of Business Representative (1)
Schulich School of Engineering Representative (2)

Online voting will take place on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of October, 2022 through the myUofC Student Centre. Voting opens at 9 a.m. on October 12th and closes at 4 p.m. on October 14th, 2022. All University of Calgary undergraduate students registered in the Fall 2022 session are eligible to vote.


In accordance with section 48 of the The Union Bylaw, the Chief Returning Officer declares the following positions vacant:

Vice President Operations and Finance (1)

For more information, visit

DATED at the University of Calgary in the City of Calgary, Province of Alberta, this 29th day of September 2022.

Clubs Week, SU By-Election, and Pet Therapy

Clubs Week, SU By-Election, and Pet Therapy 150 150 Gene Baines

Hello UCalgary,

There’s already a lot happening this fall, and we are only in the third week. Here is a quick round-up of upcoming events and important deadlines:

Clubs Week

Clubs Week is back in Mac Hall! Check out hundreds of different clubs, explore your interests, and make some new friends. You can preview the whole Clubs list here, or just drop by Mac Hall North and South Courtyards all this week.

Pet Therapy

The puppies are back, too. Join us on Wednesday from 12 – 1:30 p.m. in That Empty Space (lower level Mac Hall), and enjoy a visit with our friends from PALS.

SU By-Election

Are you a leader in the campus community? Would you like to be? Consider running in the upcoming SU By-Election. We have eight vacancies (faculty rep positions for Kinesiology, Social Work, Haskayne, and Schulich (2), a Board of Governors Student-at-Large, Vice President Operations and Finance, and Vice President External. Nomination days are coming up Sept. 26 – 28. All the info you need is here on our website.

Health and Dental Referendum (SU By-Election)

You may not have heard yet, but there will be a referendum question on the ballot during the SU By-Election. We’re asking students to make a decision about indexing the SU Health and Dental Plan fees to inflation, to maintain existing benefits and keep the cost of the plan predictable over time. It’s really important that you learn about this issue and vote (on your Student Centre, October 12 – 14!), even if you don’t use the plan yourself. You can read the question and learn more on our website.

Advocacy Survey

We are running an advocacy survey right now to learn how students feel about the return to campus, access to voting, and rising costs. Your responses will guide our efforts on these issues. We have extended the deadline until this Friday, Sept. 23 in order to hear from as many students as possible. Please take a few minutes to fill out the to fill out the 2022 SU Summer Advocacy Survey.

Fall Food Drive and Stack the Mac

October is Food Security Month, and we are holding our annual  Fall Food Drive. There are three easy ways to make a difference on campus. You can make a donation in person, a monetary donation on our GoFundMe page, or join us Oct. 5 in Mac Hall for our Stack the Mac event. (Bring a box of mac and cheese and help us build a tower taller than Rex!)

Are you an undergraduate researcher?

Finally, have you spent some time in the lab and made a unique discovery? Will your critical analysis lead to positive social change? Share your accomplishments at the Undergraduate Research Symposium for the chance to win a scholarship. Abstracts are due Sept. 29 at 4:00 p.m. For more information or to submit an abstract, visit our website.

I’ll be back with another email soon – there is always lots to share. In the meantime, the best way to stay up to date is to follow the SU on social media, @SUUofC.


All the best,

Nicole Schmidt,
President, Students’ Union

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Release: Textbook Broke – Students looking for affordable ways to study

Release: Textbook Broke – Students looking for affordable ways to study 150 150 Michael Brown

Calgary – Students have returned to classes at the University of Calgary, facing a much less affordable environment than when the pandemic first hit. Students have endured skyrocketing cost pressures well prior to the current inflation crisis.


UCalgary students are paying at least 25% more in tuition than they did in 2019, with no corresponding increase in education quality. Fees for student services, recreation, and athletics have also seen double-digit percentage increases since 2019.


On top of that, simply affording study materials, like textbooks, is increasingly difficulty for students. In a 2021 SU survey, 85% of students identified the cost of textbooks and other required course materials as a source of financial stress and hardship. In 2018, MacLean’s magazine found that Canadian students spend an average of $773 on textbooks each year. This number is likely even higher today.


“Students aren’t just broke, they’re at a breaking point,” says SU VP Academic, Shaziah Jinnah Morsette. “Tuition, fees, books, and rent have all increased at rates well above inflation for the last three years. The current inflation crisis has compounded it even more. We need government and universities to help. One way they can do that is to support, encourage, and fund Open Educational Resources (OER).”


OERs are any type of teaching, learning, and research resource, from textbooks to presentations, that are free and openly available through an open copyright license like Creative Commons to allow for repurposing and sharing of OERs by others. Traditional textbooks and materials come with more restrictive copyright licenses. However, awareness for using OERs as a solution to the costly burden of traditional textbooks is still growing.


The Students’ Union (SU) sees tremendous value for students in OER initiatives. Following years of provincial inaction, in 2021, the SU committed $500,000 to support the development of OERs. This money is creating up to fifty new OERs over five years. While provincial funding in Ontario and British Columbia have led to millions in savings, Alberta lags behind in supporting OERs. Ontario and B.C. students have saved nearly $40 million in costs thanks to government investment in those provinces.


“While the Alberta 2030 initiative mentions OERs, it is unclear what action the province will take to catch up to comparator provinces like Ontario and BC,” says SU VP Academic, Shaziah Jinnah Morsette. “What is clear is that students cannot continue to wait for real action. That’s why we have partnered with our university library on our own OER project to support OER use and development.”


The SU joins calls from students, student associations, and other organizations in asking for institutional and government support for OERs. It is a simple and effective way to help students save money and continue to be able to access a post-secondary education.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown, External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union