By Chris Adams, October 13 2014 —
Students’ Union vice-president external Levi Nilson is calling on students to attend a budget town hall to protest “unjustified tuition hikes” known as market modifiers.
University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon, provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall and vice-president finance and services Linda Dalgetty are speaking at the annual budget town hall held in MacHall A on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 p.m.
Nilson is rallying students on Facebook. The group, called “Hold U of C Accountable for Market Modifiers” has around 1,500 invitations, with 230 accepting the request.
“We want students to go there and be like, ‘why aren’t you guys investing in the programs that you think need further investment from students? Why do students always have to bear the cost whenever you want to spend money on new things?’”
In a statement released by the U of C, Cannon said she will discuss the U of C’s “current financial position, the 2015-16 budget process, as well as the opportunities and challenges we see ahead” at the town hall.
According to the U of C’s financial statement for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, the university has $64.1 million in unrestricted net assets. The statement said surplus money added to this total is “to help support the university in reaching its strategic goals in future fiscal years of funding uncertainty.”
Nilson said administration made the decision not to invest its own money in the faculties up for market modifiers.
“At the end of the day, the university has a comically large amount of money they can spend on whatever they want. They’re just deciding not to use it,” Nilson said. “It’s all about perception and all about taking advantage of an opportunity rather than any sort of financial need.”
University administration received the final market modifier proposals from three faculties on Friday, Oct. 3. Administration has until Wednesday, Oct. 15 to submit proposals to the provincial government.
The faculty of engineering proposed a $175 per course hike, a 31 per cent increase. The faculty of law proposed a $250 per course increase, while the school of business proposed a $300 per course jump for MBA students.
The engineering market modifier will generate $3.85 million per year if approved.
Nilson said getting people to attend the town hall is about questioning administrative justifications for pursuing new market modifiers.
Thirty per cent of market modifier revenue goes to administration, with 20 per cent going to scholarships and bursaries. The remaining 50 per cent goes to the faculty.
“It’s about getting people to understand that the university does not have a good case. It’s not something that, even if it doesn’t effect new students, it’s setting a bad precedent for the university to just run rough-shot on students finances,” Nilson said.
The provincial government last accepted market modifier proposals in 2010. Then minister of advanced education Doug Horner said this would be a “tuition fee adjustment.”