Statement from President Loreman about tuition and fees during COVID-19
Covering the period April-December, 2020
All of our spring and summer courses will be offered online as it is not safe for classes to resume on campus at this stage, and we are looking at options for the Fall semester. This has led some to ask very reasonable questions about tuition and fees. Why, if course delivery is not taking place on-campus, is there no reduction in tuition and fees?
Online education, under these circumstances, is not cheaper to deliver. We have been forced to shift from mostly face-to-face teaching to alternative delivery with very little notice, and we need to remain ready to re-start physical classes in the same time frame. As a result, it now costs CUE more to deliver the same education, and the revenues we collect are smaller.
Our expenses at CUE have not changed significantly. Salaries compose approximately 70% of our expenditures. We also provide an amount approaching $1 million to students in scholarships and bursaries each year, and are continuing to do that. Our physical campus still needs to be maintained, along with all of the services we offer. These include student services, security, information technology, the library, human resources, our research office, registrations, admissions, administration of the university, and much more. We also continue to support our athletics programs, even if our athletes are not currently competing. Additional expenses relate to necessary technology improvements and the hiring of those with expertise in online learning to assist our instructors moving forward. All of this comes at a heavy cost.
On the other side of the ledger our revenues are significantly reduced. Our residence is empty, events and summer programs are cancelled, as are facility rentals, bookstore and cafeteria sales, and other ways in which we generate income. On request from the CSA we have reduced out Athletics fees by 20% to account for the closure of the gym. Donations have been negatively impacted by the state of the economy. We do not know how COVID-19 will impact domestic and international enrolments for the Fall, but by all reports it will be negative. This is significant.
CUE is an independent non-profit university supported by the Government of Alberta. If CUE is to remain strong and sustainable, we simply cannot afford to reduce tuition and fees. We are not alone. The same pressures are being experienced by every post-secondary institution in Alberta, and most in Canada. Like it or not, higher education in Canada comes at a cost, and students can take that into account when making their choices with respect to choosing a university to study at. The value proposition for CUE students is that they continue to receive an outstanding education, and when they finish their degree comes with a solid reputation and a high level of prestige.
I fully understand that this is not an easy time financially for our students. Many have been laid-off from their part-time jobs, and summer jobs will be hard to come by in 2020. The Government of Canada has announced financial supports for students that are amongst some of the most generous in the world. In addition, we are doing our best to support bursaries for students in need, and to provide opportunities for student employment and volunteer work at CUE where these exist. Students in immediate financial distress or long-term need should contact our Financial Aid and Awards Office and we will do our very best to assist.