As promised I have the link to the UoC’s online transcript (in this case, it’s audio/video) on the tuition town hall.
Just Ctrl+f the title “In case you missed it”.
My questions starts @ 45 minutes.
As a University of Calgary student I’m rather appalled at the suggested increases the university has suggested over the last few days. On the 27th a leaked memo with the proposed increases had been leaked to the Gauntlet (the university’s student newspaper) along with the Herald. The university then sent out a blanket email to the entirety of the student population which is screen captured to the left (click on thumbnail to open it in another window).
The President of the UoC’s Student Union talks to Rob Breakenridge on his podcast. (I highly suggest listening to it! It’s very informative.)
The increases are as follows: (Source)
Proposed Fall 2010 tuition changes include:
38.7% increase for Engineering
46.5% increase for Business
15.4% increase for Law
27.8% OR $4000 increase for Medicine
$658 increase per a course for Education
~1.5% increase across the board
~$500 more for general fees
This year (2009-2010) I have paid near $4,700 in tuition and fees. With these increases I will be paying up to $5,400, in addition to any other things the university wishes to tack on. Although I’m not amongst the most impacted by this, the increase of almost $700 is crippling. I already budget my entire summers to working 55 hour weeks (minimum wage sucks) at two different jobs to get enough money to pay for the next year’s tuition and, well, working harder isn’t quite a possibility if I’m crashing every night on the couch from exhaustion.
Methods I’m thinking to allow me to pay tuition (without going into debt) is, well, cutting my phone (that’s $40/month * 12 = $480 right there per year) and working longer shifts at wherever I can find work (if there’s any this summer due to the economy). Then there’s textbooks, food, and other things I might have to cut back on to pay for my education. Thank heavens I mooch off my mother for housing otherwise I’d have to deal with almost $7,000 a year for on-campus residence or deal with Calgary’s insane rent prices. Then there’s the increases in tuition for lawyers, educators, and doctors, who in the end will be stuck with more than $10,000 additional debt by the time they finish their degrees. I pity the people who are trying to keep themselves financially sound by staying out of debt in light of these threatened increases in tuition.
Might I make a quick point about debt? There’s a reason why Abrahamic religions have always called usury and debt bad. Jesus with clearing out the temple of money changers, Muslims banning interest all together, and other religious sects pointing out the harms dealt to people by debt. The reason is that it harms the ability of people to actually contribute to the society they’re in. Doctors are forced to go south to the states to pay off their bills, lawyers turn to corporate offices rather than serving the community through non-profits, and other individuals aim rather for the gain of the numerous for the gain of the few. Internships are no longer considered–positions that infuse leadership and knowledge into students–in favour of working at McDonalds.
No locally graduated doctor in their right mind would go anywhere near small town Alberta if tuition keeps on increasing like it has been because, well, how would they pay off their debts to the banks? It’s economics–it’s rational. It’s also harmful for a society to continue existing if you place the pressure of debt on a portion of its youngest and (supposedly) brightest leaders of tomorrow.
So I’m trying my damnedest to get through university without the debt that most people are laying on themselves. This generation is the most debt laden ever. And I’m barely, just barely, managing it.
I can readily see why guys and gals went to the February 2nd’s protest in their skivvies and offering to sell the Provost their boots. I saw people crying at the protest on the 2nd, and, if you listened to Breakenridge’s podcast, the SU president made the point that people will be forced out of the university by the increases.
You can also see why I chose to speak up at the February 2nd event and participated in the town hall with two specific questions (I will link to the transcript/video once the Students Union uploads it):
(1) Has the university considered carrying the shortage of funds (a ‘deficit’) as debt or any other mechanism other than increasing tuition?
Well, Provost Harrison dodged this question. Instead, he ‘clarified’ a small bit of information before my question where I made a quick statement about how the university takes in money (through provincial grants and tuition) and that the only way, really, was to jack up tuition or pay the loses incurred by the university’s investments or, well, carry the deficit over to the next year as debt where it would eventually be paid off in the long term rather than on the backs on the current students right now. He informed everyone of the percentages of the income of the university and left his answer at that.
Therefore I’m guessing he hasn’t, along with the university, considered taking the deficit as debt to be paid off later when their investments improve and additional funds come in through both those investments and (hopefully) more provincial grants. This is a shame, since such an immediate and brutal increase will harm the ability of students to learn at the university, whereas a slow gradual increase would solve the institution’s mismanagement.
(2) According to Metronews the minister for Advance Education stated that he hasn’t had any proposals submitted to him. Have you–I mean the university–contacted the province on what would be the current (right here I get worried about using the word ‘illegal’ which I do eventually say) tuition hike.
I was worried about the use of the word ‘illegal’ because if the university gets the minister for advanced education to overturn the cap of inflation on tuition then it wouldn’t be illegal, would it? There’s the problem. It’s the first thing the Provost Harrison touched on first with his answer and then he said he’d be contacting the province either on the 2nd or the 3rd of this month. So the university, when the information was leaked, didn’t even have the chance to even begin to talk to the province.
That means that this tuition hike can go away or be reduced significantly if enough public opinion is against it. That means that politicians in Edmonton can say, quite easily, no to the mismanaging management of the university. There’s still a chance to reverse this trend–a trend of the university, whenever tuition consultations have happened, always getting the maximum increases it aims for against the will and betterment of students.
More than 1,000 students went to the protest. More will be forming up in protest as the Students Union holds more town halls over the next week. As a student and citizen I ask you to please, please contact your MLA, contact the UoC’s board of governors, and participate with the letter writing campaign.