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Tuition hike to protect cap: minister

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Students that got an unwelcome surprise two weeks ago when they heard the Alberta Government would be allowing post-secondary institutions to raise tuition are being told their fears may be unfounded.

Advanced Education and Technology minister Doug Horner said reports of huge tuition increases across the board are the furthest thing from his ministry's mind and are the result of the media.

In mid-November the government announced they would allow post-secondary institutions to apply for increases in tuition in order to reflect the real-world cost of offering specific programs as well as recoup costs involved in many school's increasing deficits.

Soon after news came that the University of Alberta was considering up to 60 per cent increases in some of their professional faculties and that NAIT had proposed a 40 per cent increase to all programs in their business plan, minister Horner said that, as of now, he has received no proposals for hikes and that the numbers from the U of A are the result of students.

"We've already turned some things away," Horner said. "There was discussion about 40 per cent increases at NAIT -- well that ain't happening."

Tuition has been capped at annual increases tied to inflation since 2006 in regulation not set to expire until 2016, but Horner said in order to maintain the cost of the majority of programs tuition in certain faculties may have to rise.

"In my view, in order to protect the cap we need to make sure people aren't coming at us and say[ing] 'well, the whole thing was wrong, you didn't start from the right base,' " explained Horner. "If a strong argument can be made that we didn't have it right in 2004 [when tuition was frozen] we're open to look at it, but that in no way is an approval."

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