Mass dissent over rising tuition, housing fees

Photos by Marc Bence/for metro edmonton


Above: University of Alberta students hang a banner prior to hundreds gathering to protest increased tuition and housing costs at the Lister Hall ice rink yesterday. Inset: Hundreds of University of Alberta students crowd the ice rink behind Lister Hall to protest looming tuition and housing increases yesterday.

Hundreds of University of Alberta students rallied on campus yesterday, kick-starting weeks of planned protests that oppose tuition and on-campus rent hikes.

The students gathered behind the university’s Lister Hall and then simultaneously dialed up their parents, friends, employers, and politicians with cellphones, telling them what the impact of the looming hikes will have on their lives.

Julie Charchun, president of the university’s graduate students’ association, says they’re concerned about the rising cost of education because it may be forcing quality students away from pursuing higher education.

The university’s administration is proposing an 8.75-per-cent jump in rents for all of its on-campus residences, along with pursuing a 4.6-per-cent hike in tuition.

The tuition hike is the maximum allowable tuition increase under provincial policy.

"The costs are beginning to compound on students," said Steven Dollansky, a vice-president with the University of Alberta students’ union.

"An 8.75-per-cent jump in rent, coupled with a 10-per-cent increase last year, is making it hard for students to live, let alone paying for the cost of their education."

Dollansky says the university’s board of directors is taking advantage of Edmonton’s hot housing market with its proposed hikes in on-campus rents.

And with the proposed tuition hikes, an undergraduate student who currently pays $4,607 in tuition fees could pay over $300 more a year, he said.

If the hikes are approved, it could also make the university ranked as the fourth most expensive in Canada.

The University of Alberta’s board of directors is expected to make a final decision on the proposed hikes Jan. 25.