University of Calgary administration spoke with student leaders Tuesday evening about proposed "exceptional" increases for fall 2022 that would result in tuition in some programs jumping by more than 50 per cent.
The change would not affect current students, only new students beginning in the fall of 2022.
The university must submit its application for the tuition hikes to Advanced Education by the end of June.
"The exceptional tuition increases are intended to ensure continued educational quality in high demand programs by offsetting the impact of recent provincial budget reductions," the university said in a statement emailed to CBC News.
The Students' Union (SU) said administration presented plans for the increases at an information session during the union's legislative council.
Increases up to 51%
For undergraduate programs, tuition would go up 15.7 per cent for the medical doctor program, 32 per cent for the bachelor of science in engineering for domestic students, and 51 per cent for the bachelor of science in engineering for international students.
That means MD students and domestic engineering students would pay more than $2,000 extra each year, and international engineering students would pay an additional $11,000 per year.
"Engineering especially has been pretty hard hit by tuition increases in the past two years. For the last two consecutive years, we've seen a 10 per cent increase for domestic engineering students. So these increases would be on top of that," said SU president Nicole Schmidt.
"It's becoming exponentially expensive to go into an engineering program at the University of Calgary."
SU advocating for delay
For graduate programs, tuition would increase by 25 per cent for the master of business administration, and by more than 35 per cent for the master of engineering for international students.
These hikes are in addition to an average increase of seven per cent approved in February for nearly all program, and the impacted programs would still be subject to those annual increases in future years.
The SU has invited administration to return to its legislative council meeting on June 1 to conduct a consultation.
"We're calling on the university to delay the proposed increases until students are back in classes and hopefully back on campus," said Schmidt.
"Failing that, the SU plans to advocate to Minister [Demetrios] Nicolaides to delay approval until such a time is better and a more fulsome student engagement can be done. As of right now, the student union is skeptical that consultations can actually be done adequately over the summer break."
The University of Calgary told CBC News it's continuing to consult with stakeholders.