On Friday, the Board of Governors at the University of Alberta approved a 4.6% increase in tuition fees. That translates to an extra $215.55 for general arts and science students. Of course the decision made the local news and predictably the segments focused on the extra burden this places on students.
But more than teaching or deferred maintenance, it was the question of affordability that concerned Students’ Union President Michael Janz.
Janz stressed that every time fees are increased, the debt loads that students incur go up, as do the chances that someone will not apply to the U of A because they see it as financially unfeasible.
I mean, what do you expect the SU President to say? Of course he’s got to side with students on the issue, that’s his job.
I think the focus should not be on tuition, however. Looking back on my time at the university, I think the problem are textbooks. Sure tuition is expensive and I am repaying student loans now, but it was textbooks that were the real killer.
In my last two years, I avoided purchasing textbooks whenever possible. The idea of spending $175 for a 150 page book just drove me nuts. Especially since most of the content in the books can be found elsewhere. The other thing that sucks is when a professor requires the latest edition of a textbook, meaning students cannot purchase the less expensive old editions.
There’s no reason to force students to purchase ridiculously expensive textbooks. Hell, there’s pretty much no reason to have physical textbooks at all! Just offer digital versions instead. Or incorporate free materials.
I think getting rid of the expensive textbooks would help students far more than trying to prevent tuition increases.
Read: The Gateway