Fee freeze goes into effect for Alberta’s post-secondary students
The NDP government has followed through on an election promise to freeze tuition and fees for post-secondary students for the next two years.
The tuition and fee freeze went into effect on Tuesday and the province says starting this fall it will review the overall funding model for post-secondary institutions.
What fees are affected?
- Tuition for students and apprentices
- Additionally, institutions are expected to freeze mandatory non-instructional fees and apprenticeship material fees, levied by institutions including lab fees or fees directly related to classroom instruction
- Some fees, that are not considered mandatory, are at the discretion of the institution and may still rise including parking fees, students’ residence fees and any fees levied by student unions or associations for example.
A review of the funding model will take a look at how post-secondary institutions are funded and taxpayer funding as well as tuition, fees and funding from other sources will be included in the assessment.
Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, Lori Sigurdson, was at Mount Royal University on Tuesday and says the initiatives are a first step toward making higher education more affordable.
“We really care about making education affordable and accessible for all Albertans and we’re committed to developing our post-secondary institutions,” said Sigurdson. “I’ve met with many of the presidents across the province of our 26 post-secondary institutions and they’re already encouraged by what our government’s done. They’re feeling confident in the way we’re moving forward and I would say that I think that they’re feeling fairly stable with our government’s commitment thus far.”
The province also restored funding that had previously been cut and says the extra money will ensure all institutions freeze the cost of mandatory non-instructional fees.
The overall commitment is $133 M for the 2015-16 year and includes:
- Reversing the 1.4% cut to post-secondary institutions
- Increasing base funding for post-secondary institutions by 2%
- Freezing tuition and mandatory non-instructional student fees for 2 years
- Cancelling market modifiers that were recently approved for 25 programs
- Restoring apprenticeship and targeted enrolment funding
“Alberta’s university students are pleased with the decision to freeze tuition for the next two years as it will help prevent post-secondary education from becoming unaffordable and out of reach for Albertans. During the freeze, students are looking forward to collaborating directly in the planning of the long-term funding framework for post-secondary education, and to ensuring that the principles of affordability and predictability continue to guide future considerations for the tuition and fees we pay,” said Romy Garrido, Chair, Council of Alberta University Students.
“I can tell you that even a temporary tuition freeze is a welcome relief for post-secondary students and their families. It’s a good first step after years of increases and ever-growing student debt. Every penny counts. Students are pleased that the government is considering students’ needs and that they’re consulting us. We look forward to working with the government to ensure the provincial operating grants and tuition structure is and equitable and best serves students across the province,” said Erik Queenan, President, Students’ Association of Mount Royal University.
“That sounds fantastic actually. I just hope it doesn’t raise any higher than what it is right now,” said Louie Badilo, U of C chemistry student.
The province says market modifiers that were instituted in December 2014 for programs at 10 institutions will be cancelled and that it is working to change the regulations to eliminate these types of tuition increases in the future.
The freezes will last for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.
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