November is here!
It is now nearing the end of the year, and this will be my first post as the new VP External and Student Affairs. It has been an exciting and busy first few months in this role. I am excited to bring you all some news and important information for the month!
First off, the Government of Alberta is currently undergoing a tuition and fee review. They are seeking input from students and stakeholders to aid in future directions for governing tuition and student aid. They have released a discussion guide with questions, along with a survey to get input. This can be found online here.
The survey will be open until November 30, 2016. Taking this survey will require some time, including reading the background information provided. However, it is very important that you, as stakeholders, provide your valuable input.
As the students of AU, we are a distinctive constituency. By attending an online and distance institution, we have a unique perspective from most other students and stakeholders. AU students are unique in that we do most of our coursework online, we do not attend a physical brick and mortar institution, most of us are working full time or have other commitments, we are taking course loads that are best suited to ourselves, and we are spread out all over the world. Because of the unique views that the students of AU have, if we do not respond to this survey, we will not get proper representation with the government when they put policies in place regarding tuition regulation and student aid.
The review and its discussion topics are mainly about the increases in tuition, MNIFs (Mandatory Non-Instructional Fees), and how they should be implemented. These increases and fee changes will affect accessibility for current and prospective students that want to attend AU. It is vital for AU students to provide feedback on this to keep AU accessible and affordable to whomever wants to apply, now and in the future. We also want to make sure that we, as students, are still receiving the best quality post-secondary education that is possible.
One of the discussion topics is how tuition should be regulated and implemented. As Canada’s only dedicated online university, it is important that AU receive the proper funding toward technological infrastructure. This is a large portion of where budgeting goes to operate the institution, as our technology needs are much higher than at brick and mortar institutions. For us to receive the best post-secondary education at AU, we need to make it known that a blanket type of tuition increase is not fair for all institutions and does not benefit them equally. The appropriate increase level should be different for each institution. Not every institution is the same, so they should not all get the same treatment. By allowing for different levels of increases for each institution, they would all be able to benefit from their respective increases set, and not just a select few would benefit. This would make sure that with the tuition increases, our institution benefits the most it can, and this will pass down to us as students.
I must urge everyone to provide their input on this. The government should hear from as many people possible, especially those of us that are not the traditional type of students, or are from out of province. Please review the information and take the survey online here.
Onanother note, your AUSU Executive team (myself included!), are going to be attending CASA advocacy week in Ottawa from November 14-18, 2106. This entails student leaders from across the country gathering together to meet with Members of Parliaments (MPs), Ministers, Senators, public servants and stakeholders to press for improvements to Canada’s post-secondary education system. Details about this can be found online here.
It will be a very busy and involved week for us and we will look forward to providing you all with updates about advocacy week. Thanks for reading!
AUSU VP External and Student Affairs