How would a tuition increase at Athabasca University Impact You?
Tuition is likely to increase at Athabasca University next year despite student opposition. Tuition rose at every Alberta university this year and looks likely to happen again at Athabasca University, despite strong opposition by AUSU at meetings with the university and at the Board of Governors throughout the fall and into the new year.
The Government of Alberta changed the rules last year to allow for three years of tuition increases at 7% each year. Tuition increases paid by Alberta residents at universities used to be frozen but starting in 2020 the Government of Alberta announced that universities could raise tuition up to 7% per year until 2022, after which it will be limited to inflation. Tuition increases paid by international students and out-of-province students at Athabasca University were never subject to such limits and both have risen over the past few years.
The Government of Alberta drastically cut university funding at Alberta universities, including Athabasca University, starting in 2019. The Government of Alberta cut funding to universities and colleges by $234 million cumulatively since 2019, with additional cuts being planned for the next budget in 2021. The Government of Alberta has called on all institutions to look to tuition to help cover that gap in funding, while at the same time has also increased interest rates on student loans, cut tuition tax credits, and cut student job programs.
Athabasca University will likely decide in January how much to increase tuition for September 2021. The Board of Governors at Athabasca University has to approve any tuition increase at the institution and will likely do so at their January 2021 meeting before the budget for 2021/22 is determined. No numbers have been provided to AUSU yet, but we are worried the institution will seek the maximum possible increase of 7%.
How much is tuition going up Athabasca University?
Tuition for Alberta residents could go up as much as 7%, and there is no strict limit on increases to out-of-province and international students although last year those also saw 7% increases along with Alberta residents. Tuition will also be allowed to go up by up to 7% in 2022 as well.
Where is the additional money going?
Athabasca University is using increased tuition revenues to cover the budget deficit, which includes investments in a new integrated learning environment and other initiatives.
Why do out-of-province students pay so much more?
Athabasca University is given an exemption for out-of-province students to allow them to be charged more for the same credit as Alberta students – which is intended to cover in part the difference in operating funding provided to Athabasca University by the government compared to other schools. In fact, Athabasca University receives less government funding per student than any other university in Alberta.
Who is responsible for the tuition increase?
The AU Board of Governors formally is responsible for approving the increase, but the proposal comes from Athabasca University’s senior administration and is a direct result of budget and policy choices by the Government of Alberta.
What is AUSU doing about the increase?
Athabasca University has been consulting with AUSU on a proposed increase. Every step along the way, AUSU has argued against the need for an increase and emphasized the impact of such an increase on our members, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. AUSU has also advocated to the Government of Alberta to take another look at budgetary decisions that led to the increases and will be engaging in ongoing advocacy on this topic.
How much would a 7% tuition increase impact your ability to study at Athabasca University?
UPDATE: On December 17, 2020, AUSU posted a poll asking the above question on our website. We also posted a poll in our January 8, 2021 e-newsletter. As of January 22, 2021, the poll received 1,983 responses, with 87% of students indicating a tuition increase would have a significant ability to study at Athabasca University. The chart below shows the combined results.
If you have any questions, please contact the AUSU President, Stacey Hutchings, at [email protected].