Dec. 11, 2020

Tuition to increase, but will still remain below the national average of our U15 peers

Qualifying students eligible for tuition reinvestment bursary program: A message from Dru Marshall, provost and vice-president (academic)

On Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, the University of Calgary Board of Governors approved a proposal to increase tuition fees starting May 2021. Despite the increase, UCalgary’s tuition rates will remain well below the median of our U15 peers and many other post-secondary institutions across the country.

As part of the consultation process with students, we reduced some of the proposed increases (e.g., campus recreation and athletics fees and the Student Services Fee; graduate thesis-based tuition). The MacKinnon Report, a report commissioned by the Government of Alberta, recommended that post-secondary institutions work to achieve a more balanced revenue mix with less reliance on government grants and more funding coming from tuition and other sources. The imperative to increase tuition rates is compounded by the challenging provincial budget situation. This situation has been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

To accommodate successive cuts to our Campus Alberta grant that will total $84 million in 18 months by April 1, 2021, we have a philosophy of shared responsibility between administration, staff and students. On an administrative level we have cut the number of leaders, increased the effectiveness and efficiency of processes, and flat lined the majority of leaders’ salaries for the past six years.

From a staff perspective, we have agreed to lower increases, reduced our staff complement by over 600 positions, and cut many planned initiatives. Students contribute through tuition increases. In addition, we have also examined a number of revenue-generating ideas.

A number of engaging consultations were held with students. Their concerns were heard and we appreciated the time students and student leaders took to share their views during various consultation events.

As part of Provincial Budget 2019, a new Tuition and Fees Amendment Regulation was approved that allowed for increases to domestic tuition of up to seven per cent in each of the following three years, with no program increasing by more than 10 per cent. We are now in year two of that three-year window. The domestic tuition increases proposed are all within this provincial regulation. There are no provincially set limits on increases to tuition for international students.

Prior to this current year, students benefited from a five-year freeze on tuition. Our tuition proposal is within the seven per cent envelope allowed under the Provincial Tuition and Fees Regulation and is very nuanced. For those programs that are new or where tuition was comparable to our Canadian peers — no increase was proposed. For those programs that were approved relatively recently, an inflationary increase was applied. For those programs that were generally below the Canadian median of U15 universities, a seven per cent increase was applied, and for those that were well below the U15 median, the proposed increase was 10 per cent.

UCalgary continues to work diligently to provide an outstanding student experience and support for students in need. A tuition reinvestment bursary program is available to students who meet the required criteria. More information can be found here.

Our budget decisions are informed by our Academic and Research Plans. These guiding documents provide direction in good and challenging times about the allocation of our human, capital, and financial resources.

The following tuition fees will take effect starting on May 1, 2021:

  • Tuition increases for domestic students (undergraduate)
    • 7% increase - Most programs
    • 10 % increase - Engineering, MD Program tuition (1st year and new)
  • Tuition increases for International students (undergraduate)
    • 2% increase - Law
    • 7% increase - Most programs, e.g., Arts, Science, Business (2nd year and above)
    • 10% increase - Most programs, e.g., Arts, Science, Business (1st year and new)
    • 15% increase - MD program (1st year and new)
  • Tuition increases for domestic students (graduate)
    • No increase - Thesis-based programs (master's and PhD), Doctor of Design, DBA, EMBA, Graduate certificates in data science and information security
    • 2% increase - MMgmt, Master of Data Science, Master of Information Security and Privacy, and recently approved graduate certificates (e.g., SAPL, Nursing, Social Work, Engineering)
    • 7% increase - Most other programs (including course-based, EdD, MPP)
    • 10% increase - MEng (course-based)
  • Tuition increases for international students (graduate)
    • No increase - Thesis-based programs (master's and PhD), Doctor of Design, DBA, EMBA, MBA, MMgmt tuition fees, Graduate certificates in data science and information security
    • 2% increase - MPP, Master of Data Science, Master of Information Security and Privacy, and recently approved graduate certificates (e.g., SAPL, Nursing, Social Work, Engineering)
    • 10% increase - Most other programs (including course-based, EdD)
    • 15% increase - MEng (course-based)

Additionally, and following a broad consultation process, the Board of Governors also approved increases to student service fees, residence, meal plan and parking fees for 2021-22.

General fees (effective May 1, 2021) 

A seven per cent increase to the student service, campus recreation, and athletics fees has been approved. The increase to the student service fee equates to a $33.71 increase for full-time undergraduates registered in fall/winter and annually for full-time graduate students. The increases to the campus recreation and athletics fees are $5.25 and $7.25 respectively for undergraduates and $7.87 and $3.62 for graduate students.

Residence fees increase (effective May 1, 2021)

Residence fee increases range from two per cent to three per cent depending on the building and bedroom type. Residence Services currently consists of 2,824 residence spaces across 10 residence communities. They provide accommodations to all students including undergraduate, graduate students and students with families.

Meal plan program fee increase (effective May, 2021)

A three per cent increase to meal plans and the elimination of mandatory food funds has been approved. The meal program is mandatory for first-year students living in residence — providing freedom for students to eat when and what they choose. All students who live on or off campus are eligible to purchase any meal plan or pay drop-in rates at the Dining Centre.

Parking rate increases (effective April 1, 2021)

Outside surface lots and Spy Hill surface lot flat rates will increase $1. The daily rate at the Art Parkade will increase from $10 to $11 and evening flat rate from $8 to $9. Daily rates include re-entry privileges and the WayToPark user fee, for those who pay through the WayToPark app.

A student exam discount rate in parking lots 10, 11 and 32 will be available to all students for fall and winter final exam periods; the discount is 50 per cent of day rate in those lots.

Dr. Dru Marshall
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)