Edmonton, October 27, 2003 – The spirit of the proposed amendments to Bill 43, the Post-Secondary Learning Act fails to address students’ major concerns with the Bill.
“A permanent framework to increase tuition above the 30% cap and above the pace of inflation still appears to be the government’s plan,” stated Shirley Barg, CAUS Chair. “While the explicit deregulation of distance education may be taken off the table, this amendment does not address our concerns about tuition. Purposeful under-funding led to the removal of the 12% cap, the 20% cap, and now the 30% cap. This isn’t about ‘flexibility’; this is about another broken promise — it’s about the gradual privatisation of public post-secondary education,” Barg concluded.
“It seems unwise to allow institutions the ‘flexibility’ to increase tuition above the 30% cap without a review of the system to why the current framework works for some institutions and not others,” stated Chris Samuel, CAUS vice-chair.
Currently, Alberta’s universities can only charge students 30% of their net operating expenditures. Bill 43 proposes that cap be removed.
Bill 43 also creates provisions for the Minister to investigate and dissolve an elected student council.
“The amendment on the audit provisions does not address our concerns fully,” said Barg. “It still leaves the door open for institutional administrations and Boards of Governors to trigger the investigation. It is widely known that this provision will be used to brow-beat students.”
“Students’ unions are accountable to students. They get their money from students, and are held strictly accountable to them,” said Samuel. “Students’ associations receive no funding from the government or from their institutions. We feel it is inappropriate for students’ associations to be held accountable to anyone but students.”
“It appears as though the government is unwilling to allow students to hold their own representatives accountable through their own tested means,” stated Barg. “It also appears as though the calls for affordable public post-secondary education are not heeded.”
The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) represents over 80 000 Alberta undergraduate university students.
For more information, contact:
Shirley Barg, CAUS Chair
780 461 4948
Melanee Thomas, CAUS Executive Director
780 492 1976