October 31, 2023

GSA’s Advocacy for Affordable Education: The GSA’s Five Key Asks for Positive Change

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As advocates for graduate students, the Graduate Students’ Association recently met with the university’s Provost’s office to discuss key issues that directly impact the graduate student community. Here is a breakdown of the five significant asks presented by the GSA during the meeting, highlighting the importance of each request and the potential impact they could have on graduate education.

Ask #1: Reduce Tuition for Course-Based International Students  

One of the most pressing concerns raised by the GSA is the steep tuition increase faced by course-based international students. While other graduate students will experience a 2% increase in tuition, course-based international students are expected to bear a substantial 10% hike. The GSA is advocating for a reconsideration of this increase to ensure a more equitable fee structure for all graduate students.

This request reflects the GSA’s commitment to fairness and affordability in education, emphasizing that all students, regardless of their nationality or program, should have access to quality education without bearing a disproportionate financial burden.

Ask #2: Enhance Transparency and Understanding of Tuition/Fee Increases 

Transparency is essential in maintaining trust and collaboration within an educational institution. The GSA is calling for increased transparency concerning tuition and fee adjustments. The proposal suggest that the university should collaborate with the GSA and the Student Union (SU) to provide a clear rationale for any fee increases, and to demonstrate the value these increases add to the student experience.

This ask underscores the importance of informed decision-making, ensuring that students have a clear understanding of the financial aspects of their education and the factors behind any cost adjustment.

Ask #3: Close the Gap in Graduate Program Administrators (GPAs) 

Graduate Program Administrators (GPAs) play a vital role in the graduate student experience, facilitating academic support, program coordination, and more. However, budget cuts have led to the consolidation and elimination of GPA positions in some departments, leading to a lack of dedicated GPAs in many cases.

The GSA is requesting the university to address this gap by rehiring GPAs or implementing alternative solutions to provide students with th support they need. the proposal acknowledges the tight budgetary situation while emphasizing the need for maintaining a high quality support system for graduate students.

Ask #4: Create a Collaborative Crisis Taskforce for International Students 

In an increasingly globalized world, international students may encounter unforeseen challenges that can impact their education, such as sudden currency devaluation. To address these issues effectively, the GSA suggests creating a collaborative Crisis Taskforce involving the SU, GSA, and the university.

This taskforce would be dedicated to responding to the crisis that specifically affect international students, providing them with the necessary support and resources during challenging times.

Ask #5: Expand the Student Community Discussion into a Community of Practice for Affordability

The final asks seeks to foster a culture of collaboration and innovation within the university community. The GSA encourages expanding the Student Community Discussion into a Community of Practice for Affordability, complete with a decision-making mandate. This platform would bring together the SU, GSA, university administration, and students at large to brainstorm solutions for addressing affordability issues, even during budgetary constraints.

By fostering such collaboration, the university community can work together to find sustainable solutions to affordability challenges and enhance overall student experience.

The GSA’s advocacy for affordable education is to ensure that graduate students receive the support and resources they need to succeed. By addressing these five key asks, the university can create a more equitable and supportive environment for all its graduate students.

What Happens Next?

The Tuition and Fess Consultation Committee (TFCC), comprising members from the SU, GSA, and the Administration, will hold its final meeting in November. They will report on how student feedback, including that collected during the October GRC, has been incorporated into the tuition and fee proposals. After this meeting, UCalgary Administration will submit their proposal to the Finance and Properties Committee (FPC). The proposal will then be debated and approved by FPC, before finally going in front of the UCalgary Board of Governors on December 8, 2023.

The decisions made during this process will determine the final changes to the tuition and fees for 2024-25 fiscal year. The GSA’s advocacy has set the stage for positive change, and the entire university community eagerly anticipates the outcome. Your voice matters, together, we can shape the future of graduate education at the University of Calgary. If you have any questions or concerns, submit them to your departmental Graduate Representatives to bring forward your questions on your behalf.

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