Extreme Proposed Tuition Increases would damage Access to Education, Recruitment, and Student Trust

News Staff - Mon Apr 12, 2021

Edmonton, AB - The University of Alberta recently informed the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) and the University of Alberta Graduate Students’ Association (UAGSA) about a slate of proposed exceptional per-year tuition increases:.


  • JD (Law): from $11,701 to $16,967 (+$5,265, 45%)
  • PharmD (Pharmacy): from $11,431 to $16,461 (+$5,029, 44%)
  • DDS (Dentistry): from $23,109 to $32,352 (+$9,243, 40%)
  • APDDS (Dentistry): from $57,093 to $79,930 (+$22,837, 40%)
  • BSc in Engineering: from $7,309 to $9,100 (+$1,790, 24.5%)
  • BComm (Business): from $8,012 to $9,775 (+$1,762, 22%)
  • BSc in Radiation Therapy: from $6,091 to $7,309 (+$1,218, 20%)
  • BSc in Medical Laboratory Science: from $7,512 to $8,789 (+$1,277, 17%)


  • Master’s in Counselling Psychology with Thesis: from $4,192 to $8,574 (+$4,381, 104%)
  • Master’s in Counselling Psychology: from $4,287 to $8,574 (+$4,287, 100%)
  • MBA (Business): from $14,380 to $24,015 (+$9,635, 67%)
  • MEng (Engineering): from $7,345 to $9,034 (+$1,689, 23%)

These per-year increases would come into force for new domestic students in September 2022. The UASU and the UAGSA warn that these extreme proposed tuition increases would damage access to education, recruitment, and student trust.

“We estimate this plan would ultimately impact at least six thousand undergraduate students,” said Joel Agarwal, UASU President. “We strongly support the Indigenous Law Students Association’s case that these increases will harm access to education for Indigenous and marginalized students. We also support the petition from the University of Alberta’s law students.”

"Graduate students are core participants in research, innovation, and entrepreneurial efforts,” said Marc Waddingham, UAGSA President. “They are essential personnel for our provincial economic recovery. These disproportionate budgetary cuts and resulting tuition hikes are sending a clear signal to future students: reconsider coming to the University of Alberta. This trend of exceptional tuition increases is not sustainable, and I fear it will become a common practice and eventually impact all of our programs."

The University intends to bring this newly unveiled proposal to the Ministry of Advanced Education for approval in the next few weeks. However, the UASU and the GSA believe that this proposal is not consistent with the requirements and principles found in the Tuition and Fees Regulation. We urge the University not to submit these proposed increases to the Ministry. Failing that, we urge the Ministry to reject them for the following reasons:

  1. The proposed increases are egregious, especially in light of the short consultation windows available for students in the affected units to respond.
  2. The proposed increases come with no plans to improve student financial aid or graduate student funding arrangements.
  3. Section 5(2) of the Regulation only permits exceptional tuition increases if their purpose is to increase program quality. The minimal documentation we have received from the University has no reference to quality. Instead, the documentation justifies the increases with comparisons to tuition rates at some of the most expensive universities in the country. We strongly believe that revenue generation, not program quality, is the primary goal of these exceptional increases.
  4. Section 5(4) of the Tuition and Fees Regulation requires the University to consult with the UASU about exceptional tuition increases. However, the University’s approach has failed to honour the basic standards of its consultation handbook’s Student Participation Principles and Processes.

“Tuition for these programs is already rising, and it’s consistent with other major universities,” said Rowan Ley, UASU Vice President (External). “After these hikes, our Business and Law programs would rank among the most expensive in Canada for new students. No reasonable consultation would conclude that students agree with these massive tuition hikes on top of the drastic increases they already face.”

Student representatives will host a COVID-safe media availability to announce next steps and provide additional context. The media availability will take place in front of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union Building (SUB) on Wednesday at 11AM.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jonathan Olfert
Director of Research and Advocacy
University of Alberta Students’ Union

The UASU is the official representative of more than 34,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.

The UAGSA's mission is to advocate for all 8200 graduate students to the University of Alberta and the Government of Alberta for a safe, supportive, respectful, accessible, and inclusive community that fosters the multi-faceted roles played by graduate students.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Marc Waddingham
University of Alberta Graduate Students' Association

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