Are changes to student fees coming our way?
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
New rules in Ontario will affect free tuition for low-income students. As well, it will allow post-secondary students to opt out of various fees — which fund campus groups, student newspapers and clubs.
The Star’s Kevin Maimann wrote, “Universities and colleges in Ontario will lose $440 million in revenue under the Progressive Conservative government’s plan to cut tuition for post-secondary students by 10 per cent.”
Doug Ford’s Conservative government has been campaigning recently under the slogan, “For the Students,” which appeared on recent podium stands. But, according to Trina James in a Maclean’s article, “Doug Ford does not represent—nor does he care for—the students of Ontario.
“If he did, he would respect the need for adequate student spaces and student-led services, respect the autonomous structure of the student unions, and ensure post-secondary institutions have the funding needed to provide both the current and future students with high quality education and adequate resources on campus.”
James also goes on to call out Ford and his government for their “Student Choice Initiative.” She also writes, “The government’s interference is nothing but a calculated attempt to dismantle the loudest and strongest advocates of public post-secondary education.”
In her article, James also lists some post-secondary services that are provided through student associations.
What could this mean for Alberta?
If Alberta were to elect a conservative government in the 2019 election, would there be similar policies put in place here?
Jason Kenny’s United Conservative Party (UCP) seem to be interested in a similar policy and take on student associations in Alberta.
A UCP policy convention took place on April 16, 2018 and saw similar views on post-secondary students being able to opt out of various fees.
The policies that were put forward at the convention stated that one of their policies would be to “Protect and guarantee the freedom of association of students by allowing individuals to choose for themselves, whether to become a member of their student’s association.”
89.7 per cent of attendees agreed or strongly agreed with this statement.
Another mandate in regard to student associations was to “prevent student association from using student association fees to engage in politically partisan activities. Student association activities are to be non-partisan.”
What would this mean for SAMRU?
At Mount Royal University, the student association is SAMRU. The student association resides in Wykham House on campus — which is home to the Hub, the Peer Support Centre and the Pride Centre amongst others.
Possible new legislation could mean some of SAMRU’s services could be cut if students decide not to spend fees on certain aspects.
This would encourage the freedom to choose to be a part of the student association or to opt out of certain fees that help run and operate various services. If you want to know how much you are paying for student association fees, you can see it in your detailed fees on MyMRU.
But, for the UCP’s specific policy to pass, they will have to win this years election and likely, this issue will be brought up later down the line — although it only took Ford’s government eight months to introduce these new rules.