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Fun With Fees

It’s that time of year again. Statistics Canada has released their annual look at University Tuition Fees (SEE: http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/020821/d020821b.htm). The bottom line results are that, over all, post-secondary tuition fees in Canada rose 4.1% over the last year. This is more than twice what the general inflation rate was over the same period. Athabasca University is no stranger to this increase, as it continues on its course of raising tuition fees the maximum amount allowable under Alberta law each and every year. Thanks so much, Dominique.

If you compare Athabasca University’s tuition with those of the other Universities in Alberta, you’ll find that after adding extra fees and the estimates that the universities suggest for books, the other Alberta universities will cost between $190 and $320 more than Athabasca University. But this is assuming you get brand new textbooks rather than used – something that simply isn’t an option for Athabasca University. Purchase used books and your costs at the U of A (SEE: http://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/ro.cfm?id=421) or U of C (SEE: http://www.ucalgary.ca/pubs/calendar/current/How/fees.htm) can very quickly drop to the same or lower then those of AU.

In addition, those extra fees at the other universities include access to fitness facilities, basic medical and dental plans, and at the U of C, a monthly bus-pass to reach your classes.

Now I have no problems with paying a little bit more for the flexibility that AU offers, but lets at least be honest about that fact. We who go to Athabasca University are actually paying more for what we receive. Currently we can quibble about the specifics a bit – we get this and they get that – but give it a year or two and Athabasca University will have to change their hold message from “having the lowest tuition fees in Alberta” to something more accurate.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that things could be worse. If you want to attend post-secondary in Ontario or Nova Scotia, you’ll be paying even more for the privilege than you will here.

Even more disturbing, the price of graduate studies has increased over 11% over the past year. These studies are the backbone of where the newest and most original ideas and research come from. Given that Canada is supposedly attempting to become the leaders in research and development over the next few years, it seems surprising that the government is allowing it to become so difficult for people to actually take their graduate studies.

The moral of the story is the sooner you can get your education done, the less you’ll have to pay for it.

Prime Minister Bows Out

As you’ve no doubt already heard, Jean Chrétien has announced that he will not be running for another term as Prime Minister {SEE: http://pm.gc.ca/default.asp?Language=E&Page=newsroom&Sub=Speeches&Doc=caucusstatement20020821_e.htm), and will be stepping down in 18 months, once the opposition parties have chosen their leaders. This does not come as too much of a surprise, given the turmoil that has been brewing in the Liberal Party for the last while, as well as polls increasingly showing that the Liberal Party’s largest obstacle in the next election is that people no longer trust Chrétien as Prime Minister.

Various groups have proposed the timing of Chrétien’s stepping down is one final dig at Paul Martin – giving Martin’s opponents time to work up some solid campaigns and at the same time allowing him to slip past the age of retirement. However, being more cynical than most, my first thought was that 18 months lets the Prime Minister leave shortly after he returns from the House of Commons’ 2003 winter break – thus wrapping up an extra two months of pay, pension, and holidays all in one. Sweet deal!

Of course, there is a downside to this for poor Jean. The Shawinnigan golf course likely will not be open when he officially retires. On the bright side, maybe he can figure out some way to get the hotel open again before he leaves.

Before Post-Secondary

With September fast approaching, another year is getting ready for their first day of school. No doubt the feelings are mixed among the little ones, but the Alberta Government has developed a brochure (SEE: http://www.learning.gov.ab.ca/parents/tips.asp) of some things that parents would do well to remember. The brochure has sections on everything from getting ready for a child’s very first day of school to preparing kids for high-school and tips on how to help with homework.

While developed primarily for Alberta students (with a reference to the Alberta Learning Information Services website) the general information presented is a useful reminder to all parents, no matter where they might be.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.