Posted on Dec 18, 2019

NDP joins post-secondary students to demand reversal of UCP budget cuts

Post secondary students at Edmonton’s MacEwan University joined with Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition to demand the Jason Kenney and the UCP Government reverse their ruthless cuts.


The call Wednesday came as the MacEwan’s Board of Governors is considering a tuition hike of up to 9.7 per cent to offset the damage done by the UCP’s cruel and heartless budget. The board is due to meet Thursday.


“Last week, the Advanced Education Minister’s own staffer had the audacity to claim that students weren’t in favour to lower tuition,” said NDP Advanced Education Critic David Eggen. “I can tell you, I haven't met a single student that wants to pay more for tuition so that this government can give a $4.7 billion handout to big corporations. Students want post-secondary education to be affordable and accessible.”


The Board of Governors of Grant MacEwan University are grappling with a $9.1 million shortfall after having their budget cut by 7.9 per cent by the UCP government. The Board will meet Thursday to consider a proposal to increase tuition by an average of 7 per cent and could see domestic students in 23 of MacEwan’s 63 programs pay between 9.65 and 9.7 per cent more in tuition. 


“The budget put forward by Jason Kenney and the UCP will impact our university with a cut of 7.9 per cent, which is the largest cut of any institution in the province,'' said Dominic Ellis-Kelly, a political science student. “Our Students’ Association estimates that, as a direct result of these cuts, our tuition could increase by $500 for students enrolled with a full course load like mine.” 


“The Government told schools that these budget cuts must not impact the student experience,” said student Brittany Steel. “MacEwan alone had to make up for a $9.1 million cut by next year. I can’t see how that won’t affect the student experience.”


The Government of Alberta also recently passed an Order in Council that amended parts of the Tuition and Fees Regulation pertaining to exceptional tuition increases and mandatory non-instructional fees. Both of these sections were changed to weaken accountability measures and cost protections for students. 


Despite the Government’s apparent commitment to student involvement in making decisions like these, none of the students' associations at Alberta's public universities were consulted on these changes or even notified that they were forthcoming.


“Due to the increase of tuition, education in Alberta is becoming more and more inaccessible,'' said Madison Vantassell, a student at the University of Alberta. “My tuition has already increased by $450 without including the price of books.”