New rules make life more af­ford­able for stu­dents

The McLeod River Post - - Education Matters -

Learn­ers in Al­berta would con­tinue to have af­ford­able tu­ition and fees and bet­ter ac­cess to post-sec­ondary op­por­tu­ni­ties be­cause of changes pro­posed in An Act to Im­prove the Af­ford­abil­ity and Ac­ces­si­bil­ity of Post­Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion.

If passed, the act would amend the Post-Sec­ondary Learn­ing Act to im­ple­ment the prov­ince’s re­vised tu­ition frame­work.

For the first time in Al­berta’s his­tory, the min­is­ter would be able to reg­u­late tu­ition and manda­tory non­in­struc­tional fees to en­sure fair­ness and pre­dictabil­ity for stu­dents. The new frame­work would also en­sure that stu­dents have a greater voice in de­ci­sions that im­pact their ed­u­ca­tion.

In ad­di­tion, the frame­work would pave the way for gov­ern­ment to:

• Cap each in­sti­tu­tion’s av­er­age tu­ition and ap­pren­tice­ship fee in­creases to the Con­sumer Price In­dex.

• Pro­vide in­creased pre­dictabil­ity for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

• Al­low the min­is­ter to reg­u­late manda­tory non-in­struc­tional fees and in­ter­na­tional stu­dent tu­ition.

• Em­power stu­dents to have more say over ex­cep­tional tu­ition and fee in­creases.

“Post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion is the key to pros­per­ity, es­pe­cially in our prov­ince’s di­ver­si­fy­ing econ­omy. But we need to make sure that stu­dents can af­ford to get a good univer­sity or col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, and that they have a say in the de­ci­sions that af­fect their ed­u­ca­tion. That’s why we did such ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion – we gen­uinely wanted to hear what Al­ber­tans had to say. By em­pow­er­ing our stu­dents, we help them get a good ed­u­ca­tion and set our prov­ince up for con­tin­ued suc­cess in the fu­ture.” Mar­lin Sch­midt, Min­is­ter of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion

To help more stu­dents af­ford a univer­sity or col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, gov­ern­ment is also ex­tend­ing the tu­ition freeze for a fifth con­sec­u­tive year. Univer­sity stu­dents tak­ing an av­er­age-priced pro­gram would save al­most $2,000 on a four-year de­gree.

“We have been ask­ing for these changes for a long time, and we’re happy to see the gov­ern­ment ad­dress­ing stu­dents’ con­cerns re­gard­ing the costs of tu­ition. We’re look­ing for­ward to leg­isla­tive changes that help sup­port stu­dents in the long run, as stu­dents are the largest stake­hold­ers in the post­sec­ondary sys­tem, and it’s en­cour­ag­ing to know that our voices mat­ter.” An­drew Bie­man, chair, Coun­cil of Al­berta Univer­sity Stu­dents

“Af­ford­abil­ity has al­ways been a con­cern of post­sec­ondary stu­dents. We are happy the gov­ern­ment is mov­ing to en­sure a post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion is af­ford­able for all stu­dents re­gard­less of where they study in the prov­ince.” Bran­don Voll­weiter, Al­berta Stu­dents’ Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil

The bill would also mod­ern­ize the post­sec­ondary sys­tem and in­crease ac­cess to post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. The pro­posed changes would:

• Con­firm Al­berta Col­lege of Art and De­sign’s tran­si­tion to a univer­sity.

• Al­low col­leges, in­clud­ing Red Deer Col­lege and Grande Prairie Re­gional Col­lege, to tran­si­tion to univer­sity sta­tus with­out fu­ture leg­isla­tive amend­ments.

• Bet­ter de­fine the man­dates of the in­sti­tu­tions in or­der to con­tinue to en­cour­age col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­no­va­tion across the sys­tem.

• En­sure there are at least two stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives on the boards of each pub­lic post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tion.

“The trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ences stu­dents take away from Al­berta’s post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions fun­da­men­tally change them in ways that ben­e­fit not only those stu­dents, but also shape our prov­ince’s so­cial and eco­nomic fu­ture. It’s why we sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to mak­ing it pos­si­ble for more Al­ber­tans to ac­cess – and be able to af­ford – a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.” Deb­o­rah Saucier, pres­i­dent, MacEwan Univer­sity

All the pro­posed changes are the re­sult of con­sul­ta­tions with stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff. The con­sul­ta­tions in­volved an on­line sur­vey, which re­ceived over 4,000 re­sponses, and a num­ber of fo­cus groups. If passed, the changes to the Post-Sec­ondary Learn­ing Act would be ef­fec­tive Feb. 1, 2019.

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