University of Calgary students cut class to protest tuition hikes

Some University of Calgary students hit the picket line Monday to protest rising tuition costs. 

Students from the university’s School of Creative and Performing Arts  — unhappy with budget cuts and tuition hikes — walked out of class to demand the province reverse post-secondary budget cuts and freeze tuition in a one-day strike. They were joined by students from other faculties in the second Alberta Student Day of Action this school year.

This month, the province approved tuition increases for domestic fees at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary.

“I’ve noticed my tuition increasing, despite the fact that I’m taking less classes than I used to,” said Chaise Combs, vice president, communications at the University of Calgary Faculty of Arts Students’ Association

“People are struggling to pay their bills. They’re struggling to put food on their table. And they’re worried about their future. They’re worried about starting their lives, burdened with an unjustifiable amount of debt,” Combs said. 

Student Haris Ahmed, who volunteers with Food Justice Now, said tuition hikes are directly impacting students and some have had to pick between a meal and paying for school. 

“We’re seeing the direct impacts that tuition hikes are having on students. People dropping out of university because they can no longer afford the tuition. People coming to our meal events multiple times.”

A University of Calgary student holds a sign against tuition hikes. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Tuition increases at the University of Calgary, and at schools across the province are “unprecedented” said David Eggen, NDP advanced education critic. 

“That’s keeping a lot of young people from being able to go to school. And quite frankly, if they don’t go to school, maybe they just end up leaving the province. So we’re very concerned about this,” he said.   

Alberta Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides, said the province is adding $12 million in funding to new scholarships and $15 million in funding to new bursaries for low income students.

“Over the past few years we have worked to bring post-secondary funding in-line with other provinces and we have made considerable progress in that regard and are now providing new investments into post-secondary education,” Nicolaides wrote in an emailed statement. 

He also said the province’s 2022 budget will introduce millions in new funding. 

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