Map: Deadline nears for proposed tuition hikes, transparency varies among …

At least nine Alberta post-secondary schools plan to submit proposals to the province to boost tuition but details being provided about the hikes vary among institutions, a Metro analysis has found.

Officials with the Alberta College of Art and Design, Athabasca, Bow Valley College, Lethbridge College, Mount Royal University, Olds College, the University of Alberta, University of Calgary have all indicated they will meet a market-modifier submission Wednesday deadline set by the province. The University of Lethbridge is also planning two proposals but will submit them a few days late should they be approved by the institution’s board of governor.

Some schools are keeping details about the proposals close to their chest. Lethbridge College spokesperson Megan Catalano said administrators shared details of the modifier hikes being sought with students during an organized forum but wouldn’t publicize them until after the submission to government had been sent.

“What I can tell you is that we did have a thorough consultative process with our students’ association regarding the matter,” she said in an email..

Other schools, including ACAD and Northern Lakes College, said they were considering modifier proposals, but had no details on the amounts that would be sought. SAIT Polytechnic has yet to indicate whether it will even apply for the hikes and five institutions didn’t respond to Metro inquiries at all.

Beverly Eastham, executive director of the Council of Alberta University Students, deemed the lack of transparency concerning and didn’t buy claims from some administrators that more time was needed to draft their proposals.

David Docherty, president at Mount Royal University, said last week in an interview the reason his students didn’t find out about the hikes being sought in nursing, science and business administration sooner simply came down to a matter of time.

“If you’re asking me would we prefer the province had of given us more notice and we had of had more time to work the numbers, then my answer would be absolutely yes,” he said.

But Eastham said the modifiers should only be sought in instances of severe underfunding.

“It shouldn’t require such a long deadline to come up with big plans for their programs in the future,” she said. “It should be about what is really necessary right now.”

The province has said the modifiers aim to correct for scenarios where an institution in the province is charging less than comparable schools elsewhere.

But Eastham said she fears a “leapfrog effect,” where one school is approved for a hike and then a similar institution attempts to get the green light for a similar amount.

She said the University of Calgary, for example, is proposing hikes in areas where the University of Alberta received approval for a modifier the last time they were allowed in 2010.

It appears the largest increase being put forward this time around will be in the U of A’s law program, where students could face a 58 per cent hike phased in over three years. Other schools have opted for more modest increases — Athabasca’s pitch to boost it commerce tuition amounts to less than a 10 per cent of what is already charged.

It’s expected the province will make final decisions on all proposals in November.

Students say they’re being left in dark on tuition pitches

— With files from Leah Holoiday, graphic courtesy Helen Pike

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