The move comes amidst Alberta’s burgeoning budget surplus and promises to lower the per-student cost for education and increase accessibility within the system.
Cameron Traynor, assistant director of communications with the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education, confirmed the government will not be increasing tuition, and noted a review on the affordability of education will take place in 2006.
Traynor added the tuition freeze is part of a 20-year plan to reform Alberta’s post-secondary system.
“We are working at what we can do to have a better- educated Alberta,” he said. “The government recognizes there has to be more money in place, but it is not just a matter of handing out cash, but [finding out] where cash needs to go.”
“It should be important to point out that the universities are getting a rebate from the province,” explained Sandra Halme, a spokesperson with the University of Alberta’s public affairs office.
She noted the government will be providing several million dollars in rebates to universities to cover the tuition freeze, adding a comprehensive tuition plan will follow after 2006’s post-secondary review.
“I think what’s on the horizon is the government doing much better [in terms] of funding post-secondary education,” said Jordan Blatz, president of the University of Alberta Student Union.
He added he is happy to see the Alberta government funneling money into a system that has seen consistent tuition increases over the last 24 years.
“Obviously I would have liked to have heard that the freeze was in perpetuity, but what we heard was progress,” he noted.
Alex Abboud, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students, pointed out that there have been problems with Alberta’s post-secondary system for years and that the freeze represents an acknowledgment of the problems that must be dealt with.