Statistics Canada reported that tuition and fees at Canadian universities are on the rise, with Alberta above the national average in both categories. Average undergraduate tuition in Alberta is now $5,318, a 1.5% increase from last year. More worrying is Alberta’s $818 in average non-instructional fees which leaves the province’s students paying the highest non-instructional fees in the country. In 2010 these fees went up by $183, the largest increase in Canada.

“The cost of university education in Alberta is too high,” said Hardave Birk, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and VP External at the University of Calgary Students’ Union. “With Canada’s lowest post-secondary participation rate we need to be doing more to reduce financial barriers to education rather than hiking the cost.”

The new figures for tuition are calculated before market adjustments in six programs take effect at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary in September 2011. Those increases are between 15% and 65%. All other programs in Alberta are limited to an increase tied to the consumer price index at 0.35%.

In contrast, Alberta’s non-instructional fees that Statistics Canada is reporting as the Canada’s highest at $818 a year have no limits and no regulation. Both the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta instituted new non-instructional fees this September of $150 and $290 respectively.

“These fees are just a workaround the tuition cap, and they should not be decided without student approval. We are demanding the government put rules around these fees and that they have to go to student referendum for approval,” said Birk.

Statistics Canada’s release on tuition and fees is available at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/100916/dq100916a-eng.htm.