SAIT students are strongly opposed to any move by the Prentice government to remove the existing cap on tuition increases.
Students interviewed on campus Feb. 27, the same day Premier Jim Prentice visisted SAIT, expressed deep concern that the cost of attending school could rise more than the 2.2 per cent currently allowed.
“It’s ridiculous that they would even consider charging more from students who are already broke and exhausted from working all the time to put themselves through school,” said first-year Radio, Television and Broadcast News student Kailyn Schreiner.
“If the cap is lifted then what would stop SAIT from adding another $5,000 onto my tuition which is already $10,000 a year,” said Courtney Johnson, a second-year Baking and Pastry Arts student.
She was one of several students interviewed who expressed concern that removal of the tuition cap would allow SAIT to take advantage of them, and future students as well.
“The problem is that the schools don’t care about education, all they care about is the money that they can get from students as they pursue their education,” said Josh Neumann, a first-year Journalism student at SAIT.
“They are taking advantage of people’s needs.”
Neumann acknowledged that it might be unreasonable to expect that education would simply be handed to people but he says that everyone at the very least deserves to be given the chance to get one.
Big increases in tuition will put a legitimate education out of reach for many people, he suggested.
“It’s a system that propagates failure and poverty among the less privileged,” said Neumann.
Many students are in agreement that constantly increasing tuition is an unreasonable, impractical and unsustainable situation.
“People are already struggling to pay for tuition,” said Schreiner.
“If they keep this up, more and more people won’t be able to afford school, leaving a great need for certain jobs with no one qualified to fill them.”
Other asked why rising education costs must be covered solely by the students.
First-year Legal Assistant student Ashleigh Charlebois wanted clarification on the purpose of the additional funds.
“Are they planning on using our money to expand and improve the programs, or are they just looking to make a larger profit so that the higher-ups can have a bigger salary,” said Charlebois.
If post-secondary institutions are in need of more money, the government should tax an industry that can actually afford to pay more, like oil and gas, rather than charging an already struggling student even more.
“It’s already difficult enough for many of us to afford post-secondary,” said Charlebois.
It is not only SAIT students that are worried about the proposed removal of the tuition cap.
The students’ concerns echoed criticism from students at other Calgary post-secondary schools.
University of Calgary political science student Harrison Willing is worried that removal of the cap could change his school.
“This means that not only will everyone have to work considerably harder to achieve grades high enough, they will have to spend any free time working if they want any hope of affording school,” said Willing.
“It becomes this negative cycle where only the elite and wealthy benefit, while the less fortunate become even more stressed, trying to balance the intense workload from school and their job.”
SAIT Civil Engineering Technology student Evan Wong didn’t have a problem with a change in the tuition cap, as long as the government was open and honest about its reasons for doing so.
“I think it’s fair as long as there is an established committee or association that gathers facts and publishes the information so that students can understand why the prices are rising and what they are getting for their money,” said Wong.
It’s a system that propagates failure and poverty among the less privileged. -Josh Neumann
Other students expressed hope that if the tuition cap is removed, the Alberta government will put some form of legislation in place to regulate the cost depending on the course and situation.
“They need to ensure that the cost is still reasonable for all students,” said Johnson.