Students could expect tuition increase beginning next year
Provost and Vice-President Academic Kathy Shailer reveals market modifier proposals in student consultation
Market modifiers may be coming to MRU — Business, Science and Nursing beware.
Kathy Shailer, Mount Royal University’s Provost and Vice President of Academic, facilitated a presentation on post-secondary market modifiers for students on Oct. 2 in the Leacock Theater at 2 p.m.
This event was sparsely attended, which may have been a result of the ineffective and untimely (which could also be rightly assumed as purposely done so) advertising of the event by the administrators.
In fact, most were invited by Erik Queenan, SAMRU President, and the rest of the SAMRU Executives, who worked hard to get the word out to students by handing out flyers that were asking, “Do you care about the cost of your tuition?”
Queenan said that the main point that he is trying to get across is that students should be able to come to MRU to study what they want and not have to choose what they can afford.
“If they 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,” said Queenan.
“These proposals, if they get through, will limit a student’s ability to do so.”
Queenan says that he believes that now students will reconsider what they are able to do, in terms of what program and even what minor they want to pursue. He says it is another barrier to open education at the university.
Each of the programs offered at MRU has a certain price to run at. But the increases are not going towards the more expensive programs. In fact, explains Queenan, the business program is one of the cheapest for the university to run.
“The whole point of a Market Modifier is to match the market,” said Queenan. “So this is not aimed at balancing out the cost of a more expensive program.”
Shailer said that MRU is trying to aim for their main competition, which is U of C, she said. Included in the agenda was a comparison between the average course price for MRU as compared to U of A, U of C, U of L and MacEwan.
It shows that if the university goes ahead with the market modifiers, courses at MRU could potential increase from $494 (the current standard charge for the Business Administration, Science and Nursing Courses for MRU) to as much as $778 for the Business program and $539 for the Science and Nursing programs.
Shailer gave a presentation that walked students through the process of market modifiers and although the event was advertised as a consultation, there was really no room for a discussion, instead the university was providing an information session followed by a Q and A, where students viciously voiced their concerns.
Shailer revealed to students that MRU will be applying to the Alberta government to raise the tuition of three programs: Nursing, Science and Business Administration. She said in her presentation that the bulk of the market modifier increase would go into maintenance of existing program costs, which continue to increase year after year.
However, Queenan says that he believes the market modifiers won’t change the quality of education because that is what he has seen in the past. In 2010, the U of C experienced an increase to tuition that did not reflect on the quality of the education offered to students.
“History repeats itself and I truly believe that there won’t be a concerted effort to put the extra money that comes from these programs back into them. I think that it is just going to get put into the tuition fund.”
The changes are said to not take effect until 2019. Not only will they affect the three programs, they will also affect any of the courses under those categories.
Students lined up and asked hard-hitting questions to the administrators. One student even remarked how he believed that MRU was trying to “play with the big kids” in terms of trying to equate itself as another U of C or U of A.
But being a young university with small classes, something that MRU prides itself on, trying to compete and masquerade as a bigger university isn’t working with their communications plan.
Policy studies professor, David Sabiston, explained that tuition in Alberta was designed to match the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
This calculation acts as a sample basket of goods and services every Albertan uses. Based upon how expensive this estimated bag is from year to year, governments and post-secondary institutions gain a perspective as to what a fair public tuition rate would be.
Although Sabiston was not aware of any formula that is being used by the actors involved with tuition modification, he said he suspected that institutions would be able to take advantage of the maximum allowable amount they could ask for.
In fact, market modifiers do not depend on the CPI at all. They simply look at other institutions throughout the country and see what they’re charging for a program and in a sense ask, “why can’t we charge the same?”
It could be that MRU’s hands are tied in a way. During the consultation, Shailer said market modifiers were suggested by the government. If MRU refuse their suggestion, how could they expect the government to help them with other funding alternatives.
Another “consultation” will be held in the near future, said Shailer, but the date has not yet been decided.
Regardless, most students left the consultation feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and powerless.
Students have organized a protest in an effort to show that students “hold grudges,” explained protest organizer Laurie Gaal.
The “Fight The Tuition Hikes” rally is something that students have organized separately and Queenan says that SAMRU fully supports them as long as it is a peaceful protest to help inform students and to help inform the university, and the government, that this is not where students want to go and that it will be fought against.
“We are extremely excited that students are getting this riled up and that they are this still vocal about such an important issue.”