Bad news for MRU: Market modifier proposals approved
Consultation to be held, students to expect another ‘opportunity’ to voice opinions
Next year, those looking to attend post-secondary might want to think twice about applying to intstitutions in Alberta. Proposals for market modifiers has been approved by the government, according to David Docherty, President of Mount Royal University.
Changes to the nursing, science and business programs were nominated for the modifiers and will see spikes in tuition rates for those programs: $150 for nursing, $100 for science and $50 for business per course.
However, according to Docherty, Mount Royal is still deciding whether to apply market modifiers, even though the government accepted the proposals.
“While approved by the Ministry, Mount Royal has not yet determined if we will adopt the changes approved in our three proposals. If Mount Royal adopted the modifiers through institutional approval by the Board of Governors, the changes would begin to come into effect for the 2015/2016 academic year, but would not be fully implemented until the 2018/2019 academic year,” Docherty said.
Docherty said Mount Royal will decide whether to go through with the proposals or not by July 1, 2015.
Market modifier proposals were due on Oct. 15, 2014. A couple of weeks prior to the deadline, Mount Royal University (MRU) held a “consultation” session where students could voice their opinion. In the consultation students were more or less told the modifiers would go through, instead of considering their position. Amidst student protests, proposals were still put forward.
The day proposals were due, students from across the province went to Edmonton, where they addressed the minister of innovation and advanced education Don Scott at the doorstep of the Legislature, to protest. A bus-load of 25 MRU students attended.
If implemented, the modifiers will be grandfathered into the program starting next year. This means that the only people affected will be those who begin their education in the fall of 2015. Those already enrolled do not need to fear changes, although many students still strongly disagree with the proposals.
Steve Kunz, first-year business student, says that Mount Royal isn’t as established as other post-secondary institutions, such as the University of Calgary (U of C) and the University of Alberta (U of A), and therefore shouldn’t be asking for the same rate of tuition.
“It’s only been a university for about six years, which is way less time than other universities, such as the U of C,” he said.
“Mount Royal should instead be focusing more on developing itself as a university. People specifically chose this institution,” he said. “They chose it because they wanted to be here. To introduce the market modifiers now would betray those who looked at other institutions and decided this would be the best fit and now their changing it. In terms of those applying, I can see how this is going to significantly reduce applicants.”
According to Docherty, the reason they put forward the proposals was to add value to each degree. “When comparing these programs to similar programs at other public institutions, Mount Royal’s tuition was lower, and often considerably lower. Offering degrees at reduced tuition as compared with similar degrees around the province undervalues the quality of our degrees.”
However, in the consultation meeting last year, Kathy Shailer, provost of Mount Royal University, admitted that education is underfunded, and it was the only option the government offered Mount Royal for funding.
Those who raised concerns at the consultation asked, “How can you put a price on education?” and “How can you determine the ‘value’ of learning?”
These questions were exactly the concerns of the Student Executives, who have organized letter campaigns and even the protest to the Legislature in Edmonton.
SAMRU President, Erik Queenan, said in a previous interview with The Reflector that “If [students] come to university and they get that far financially, then they should have free reign of all the programs and all the opportunities that are offered here.”
“These proposals, if they go through, will limit a student’s ability to do so.”
Docherty said, “The Ministry invited all public post-secondary institutions in Alberta to submit a maximum of three proposals for market modification adjustments to tuition. The proposals were intended to enable institutions to correct discrepancies between current tuition fees and tuition for similar programs at other public institutions.”
This would make those in the nursing degree pay the highest tuition in Alberta.
Kira Gerhardt, third-year nursing student, says that while the nursing program is awesome, how much more money it could cost isn’t worth it.
“People chose this school for its lower tuition while having smaller class sizes,” she said.
“I wouldn’t mind shelling out a little more money for the nursing program since it’s so great, but if it’s offering the same program as the U of C then the price for the course shouldn’t be higher than that institution.”
Another “consultation” will take place in the coming months, where students will have another opportunity to voice concerns. However, if it’s anything like the last one it may feel more like a platform for students to complain rather than a discussion where their perspective will be considered.
A date has not been set for the consultation, but students should expect something to be arranged in the next couple of months.