Province balks at U of C tuition hike plan after students complain of inadequate consultation

The province is delaying a round of tuition hikes requested by the University of Calgary, citing the need for better consultation with students.

“This is a massive win for the students’ union. This is a massive win for the students at the University of Calgary,” said U of C Students’ Union president Nicole Schmidt.

“It’s not often that we get advocacy wins on this magnitude or on this scale, especially a government advocacy win.” 

Under the school’s proposed “exceptional” hikes, tuition would go up 15.7 per cent for the medical doctor program and 32 per cent for the bachelor of science in engineering for domestic students.

International bachelor of science in engineering students would see tuition increase by 51 per cent.

For graduate programs, tuition would increase by 25 per cent for the master of business administration and by more than 35 per cent for the master of engineering for international students.

Schmidt says she’s grateful the province stepped in.

The students’ group says the university was given a 10-month window, from September to June, to consult students and submit the tuition increase proposals to the province. 

However, the university didn’t revealed its plans until mid-May, six weeks from the end of the time frame and after students had left for summer break, the Students’ Union says.

“The SU warned the university that consultation was not adequate, but the board of governors approved the increase plan anyway and sent it to the minister of advanced education for final approval,” the students’ group said in a release.

A spokesperson at the Ministry of Advanced Education says the province decided to give the university until Oct. 29 to do more consultations and resubmit its plan, after hearing concerns from students who felt consultations were not adequate.

In a statement to CBC News, the University of Calgary says it’s happy to expand efforts with the extra time given, although it believes the consultations with students and stakeholders were robust.

While specifics about that consultation process are still being worked out, the tuition increases could still become a reality for the fall of 2022.

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