The sounds of students protesting outside could be heard Friday as the University of Calgary's board of governors approved tuition and fee increases for the 2020-21 school year.
After a five-year tuition freeze implemented under the former NDP government, students can now expect anything from a zero per cent increase to a 15 per cent increase to their tuition — depending on what program they're in.
"We have 34,000 students on our campus and I think we have 34,000 versions of what they might think about this tuition increase," said U of C provost Dru Marshall.
"We've received a lot of feedback from students who are OK with the tuition increase. But you certainly heard a vocal minority today, and what I would say is these were very carefully considered."
Marshall says the university worked closely with student leaders and hosted 19 consultation meetings, including two budget town halls and two separate tuition town halls for students.
"We've tried to wherever possible take their concerns into consideration, and the proposals, quite frankly, that we're allowed under the new tuition guidelines in the new tuition regulation, were seven per cent in each of the next three years and up to a 10 per cent maximum," she said.
But Sadiya Nazir, vice-president external for the Students' Union, says they're "disappointed" in Friday's outcome.
Nazir says students don't feel they were top of mind, and she says these increases are likely just the beginning.
"Some of the rationale behind these allowances to the increase now by the government is that we can bring tuition back to where it would have been without the freeze," she said. "However, with seven per cent being allowed over three years, compounded, this is a 22.5 per cent increase. It is substantial."
And, with the approval of fee increases as well, Nazir says there is a lot for students to consider.
"It is going to be very expensive and students are not going to be able to afford post-secondary as they used to."
Tuition and fee increases by the numbers
Tuition for returning undergrad students (both domestic and international) will go up by five per cent.
Graduate students working toward "stackable certificates," or newly introduced programs (in last two years), including nursing, social work, data science, info security and master of management, will see their tuition go up by two per cent for both domestic and international students.
There will be zero increases to tuition for the following programs: executive MBA, global energy executive MBA and doctorate of business administration and doctorate of design.
For new students who enrol at the U of C next school year, their tuition is going up seven per cent for domestic students and 10 per cent for international students.
The exception to all of this is engineering, which will have an increase of 10 per cent across the board.
There will be an increase of 15 per cent for international students in the master of engineering, master of business administration and master of public policy programs.
All but five of the 21 board members voted to approve the tuition increases Friday. The opposing votes came from three student leaders, a faculty member and a public member.
The board also approved increases to a number of mandatory non-instructional fees. Student services will go up seven per cent (approximately $31.50), athletics will go up five per cent ($4.92) and campus recreation will go up 4.4 per cent ($4.73).
In addition, ancillary fees like parking and residences were all approved for increases.