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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2006

Alberta Releases Results of Post-Secondary Review

A long-awaited report on Alberta’s post-secondary education system was released June 5.

The final report from the “A Learning Alberta” steering committee includes recommendations for ensuring government funding meets inflation costs faced by institutions, increased support to promote access for rural and aboriginal Albertans, expanding and creating scholarships for graduate students, lowering interest rates on student loans, achieving a 90 per cent literacy rate, with literacy defined as the level “necessary to function in a knowledge-based economy,” and a new tuition fee policy.

The issue of setting tuition fee levels had been contentious as the government recently deregulated tuition fees, which had traditionally been set by government and capped at 30 per cent of operating revenue. The report suggests re-regulating tuition fees by eliminating the cap and tying future increases to the consumer price index.

The report also recommends rolling back tuition to 2004 levels. One element of recent tuition fee policy is that although fees increased by 3.8 per cent for the 2005–2006 academic year, there were no increased costs to students as the government covered the tuition increases. It passed on the revenue that would have been generated by the fee increases to colleges and universities as part of Alberta’s centennial celebration.

The Alberta government says it will now review the report and make decisions on the recommendations in the coming months. Consultations on the tuition fee policy are to take place with “student groups, faculty associations, institutions and opposition parties … to finalize the details so that the new policy — along with a comprehensive affordability package that addresses all costs students face — is ready for implementation in September 2007.”

The review was initiated by outgoing Premier Ralph Klein as part of his commitment to make post-secondary education in Alberta “the most affordable education in Canada".