August 12, 2020 at 3:35 pm MDT #195386lennytillerParticipant
If elected to council what are your plans to address the 7% tuition hike?
August 13, 2020 at 12:07 pm MDT #195396Natalia IwanekParticipant
Thanks so much for the question Lenny. This is definitely something that has been on the minds of students for some time.
A 7% tuition increase, especially in the midst of a financially (as well as mentally and physically) devastating pandemic will affect all AU students, but may mean the decision to ultimately withdraw for already marginalized students. For example, out-of-province students who already pay high rates have now found themselves paying a great deal more per course. (I just paid $922.25 for one of my courses in October as an Ontario student.)
AU is in a difficult spot with funding and tuition hikes, as AU students from all over Canada, not only Alberta, which affects our institution much more than traditional brick and mortar schools in-province. There are so many variables given our uniqueness, and this will also tie into performance based funding models as well.
I would hope to advocate for our unique positon on a provincial, as well as a federal level. Increased meetings with representatives, as well as spreading awareness about our uniqueness as an institution. Our school is a lifeline for so many individuals, increasingly now with this pandemic. Aggressively pursuing a tuition decrease would be my priority, as well as continuing the great work already started by AUSU.
That said, change will not come quickly, if at all, so I would hope to advocate for increased emergency bursaries and awards for students in these difficult times.
I hope I answered your question!
August 18, 2020 at 12:35 pm MDT #195417Karen FletcherParticipant
There are a few different fronts where I think we can address the tuition hike (as well as one that doesn’t directly address tuition but does address costs overall).
First, I would like to advocate for administrative decisions to be made that don’t require students to pay fees on top of tuition, such as proctorU or bank transfer fees. Although these aren’t part of tuition itself they add considerable costs to students over the course of a degree. I would like to advocate for alternative methods of assessment that are less reliant on outside proctors.
In terms of tuition, the two main ways we can address this is advocating for more money from the provincial and federal governments to offset the costs of running the university and is for pushing for cost-savings measures to reduce costs within the university.
AUSU partners with other student unions to advocate the government for funding, and I would love to be part of that process, working towards making the case that students need more financial support.
Within the university, I’d like to see AU adopt a zero-budget approach (which is when budgets aren’t based on last year’s expenses but each department needs to list and justify their expected expenses). This would help identify areas where there are costs that could be cut without compromising education (the institutional equivalent of realizing there’s a subscription service we pay for but never use). Having students mostly remote means AU saves money on building upkeep, cleaning, electricity, compared to what those would cost if we were all on campus. The fact that students are working remotely should be reflected in our tuition.
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