By Jeremy Appel on November 1, 2018.
The acting president of Medicine Hat College is impressed with the provincial government’s decision to cap post-secondary tuition fees at the rate of inflation by the 2020-21 school year.
“One of the things that this government has done is they’ve been saying a lot of things and they’ve been very consistent,” said Wayne Resch.
“What they’ve done with this announcement is maintain that consistency in the direction they’re going with post-secondary education in Alberta.”
The legislation updates the Post-Secondary Learning Act to ensure yearly increases in tuition are capped at the Consumer Price Index, which is tied to inflation.
“It provides a stability to the student in the fact that their tuition cannot go up or increase in fee any more than the Consumer Price Index amount,” said Resch.
The bill also extends the tuition freeze the NDP implemented shortly after its 2015 election to the 2019-20 school year.
In addition to addressing fees, the legislation doubles student representation on schools’ boards of governors to two positions from one.
Resch said it’s unclear whether the boards will expand to 12 members from 11 to make room for the new student representative.
Though broadly supportive of the changes, the left-leaning think tank Public Interest Alberta says the legislation could have provided staff with greater representation on institutions’ boards of governors.
“Strengthening those voices would further improve the credibility and equality of decisions made that affect all constituent groups on our post-secondary campuses,” said PIA executive director Joel French.
There’s additional uncertainty as to whether the changes will be rolled back in the event the opposition UCP wins the 2019 election.
“When you have an election coming, there’s always uncertainty to that and what that means to institutions like Medicine Hat College,” said Resch.
“At the end of the day, there’s going to be a lot of uncertainty until we know the results of that election.”
The announcement is the product of a consultation process, which the government said received more than 4,000 responses, as well as numerous focus groups.
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