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Students demand action on fees

EDMONTON — Post-secondary student leaders in Alberta have told the province’s advanced education minister that controls are needed to deal with the growing number of fees they face.

The student leaders met for five hours on Saturday with Dave Hancock.

Shuna Talbot with the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union says her own debt has been higher than expected due to mandatory, non-instructional fees.

The chair of Alberta Students Executive Council, Ken Taylor, says institutions need to be held more accountable for the fees they charge.

Taylor says the situation right now it’s a “little bit of a wild west.”

Hancock says the meeting proved to be a learning experience and an important opportunity to engage students in an open dialogue.

“Education is, fundamentally, one of the most important things we can do as a society. The question is, how do we do it so everybody has access to what they need to advance their education?” Hancock said.

“It benefits Alberta if we have a good, strong, well-educated population.”

The meeting comes just days after the release of a student report which found that the majority of students considered accessibility and cost to be their top concerns.

In last year’s provincial budget, post-secondary operating grants were cut by nearly seven per cent.

Students say they want to see a priority put on education in this year’s budget.

“We definitely need to have more students consulted in all levels of decision making,” Taylor said.

Hancock made no promises for cash.

“Money is important and how you allocate money is important, but really fundamentally we have to know how we make effective use of our resources.”

 
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