Market modifier proposals approved

New and increased modifiers will allow five UAlberta programs to maintain and enhance quality, competitiveness.


(Edmonton) The Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education has approved the establishment of new market modifiers and increases to existing market modifiers that will allow the University of Alberta to maintain and enhance the quality of the programs and to compete appropriately with other similar programs across the country.

"We are very pleased to be granted the ability to use market modifiers to maintain and add to the suite of services expected by students in the programs which enhance the students’ education,” said Olive Yonge, the U of A’s interim provost and vice-president (academic). Yonge noted the student consultation process was extensive and largely positive.

“Students recognize that market modifiers are needed to ensure the quality in their education,” she said. “The added funding will be used for student support and enhancing teaching resources."

Market modifiers represent an increase in tuition for faculties with a perceived higher earning potential. The market modifier increase request is primarily directed toward enhancing student development and instruction in communication skills, leadership, internship support, technical competencies and career support, as well as financial aid, student clubs and activities.

All told, the government approved market modifiers for the Faculty of Law juris doctor program, the Alberta School of Business MBA program, the Faculty of Arts bachelor of economics degree, the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences doctor of pharmacy program, and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine master of science in physical therapy program.

The Faculty of Law will see first-year tuition go from $10,221 to $15,995 for a domestic student. Paul Paton, dean of the Faculty of Law, says this new total sits at a level just below the $16,103 current market competitor average tuition, even though it remains well below law tuition at key competitors like the University of Toronto and Osgoode.

“I am very pleased that the government decision will allow us the opportunity to invest in the areas that that law students have identified as most important for their future,” said Paton, noting the Law Students’ Association was fully engaged throughout, and confirmed support for the proposal through two town halls and a plebiscite this fall. The LSA president lauded the “unprecedented level of consultation,” which has been key for bringing together students, law firms and the Canadian Bar Association Alberta branch in urging the change.

“Our proposal was the product of more than four years of dialogue with law students about their concerns for the future of the faculty and how we can ensure that U of A law focuses on quality and excellence at all levels to help students prepare for the challenges of a changing legal profession.”

Besides providing the flexibility in continuing to deliver top-level programming, Paton says, a priority of his throughout this process was ensuring access. The faculty's proposal committed 20 per cent of the increased revenue for scholarships and bursaries, and a graduating student bursary for students working in low income, rural and underserved communities.

“The decision today will permit us to continue to enhance investment in made-in-Alberta lawyers that will help us both ensure access to justice and advance the Alberta economy in years going forward.”

Beginning in September 2015, the Alberta School of Business’s two-year MBA program will cost $34,712.24, a jump of a little more than $11,000. Joseph Doucet, dean of the Alberta School of Business, notes that of the three Alberta universities offering an MBA program, the U of A has the lowest tuition (versus Athabasca University at $44,584–$48,865, and the University of Calgary at $38,462).

“This is going to be of tremendous benefit to our students as it will allow the school of business and the MBA program to enhance the services and learning environment in the coming years,” Doucet said. “That is going to be particularly valuable in the interesting and turbulent economic times we are entering, where the degree of preparedness for the market is going to be all the more important.”

The U of A’s physical therapy program will also see an eight per cent increase in tuition, as will annual tuition for a bachelor of arts degree in economics.

Lesley Cormack, dean of the Faculty of Arts, says economics is one of the faculty’s most popular degree programs, attracting students from all over Alberta, Canada and the world. In 2014-15, a domestic arts student paid the third least of the U15 Canadian universities. After the market modifier increase, domestic tuition for economics majors will still rank below the 10th highest arts tuition rates of the U15.

"Increased tuition revenue from the market modifier will enable us to hire new economics professors and improve the student experience through scholarships, additional tutor support and work experience programming," added Lise Gotell, vice-dean in the Faculty of Arts.

Finally, the Government of Alberta’s market modifier approval also provides for a $1,400 tuition increase for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ doctor of pharmacy program, which will accept its first cohort of students in September 2017. With this increase, the program maintains a cost that will remain below the mean for Canada, and will be far below the cost of programs at the universities of Toronto, Waterloo and British Columbia.

“We thank the government for recognizing the need for increased funding for student pharmacists,” said James Kehrer, dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “With our new degree program coming, additional funding is essential, and we are greatly appreciative of this ability to deliver a world-class doctor of pharmacy degree.”

The university will now bring the market modifier proposals through university governance for final approval.

Read the Alberta government's announcement