Faculty of Law Proposal For Exceptional Tuition Increase (ETI)

In accordance with the Alberta Tuition Framework, the University of Alberta Faculty of Law is planning to submit a proposal to increase tuition for students in the JD program, beginning with students entering the program in Fall 2022.

This tuition increase is necessary to ensure the continued quality, success and reputation of our program. In particular, increased tuition will allow us to attract and retain excellent professors who are experts in their fields; to support and expand student services unique to our program, including efforts in the areas of equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity; and to improve access to legal education by increasing student financial supports.

No decisions will be made until student consultations have been completed. If the proposal moves beyond the consultation phase, it will still require further institutional and government consideration and approval.

FAQ:

How much is the proposed tuition increase?

The proposed ETI would bring the annual basic tuition for a JD student to $15,095.08.

This is an increase of 29%, or $3,393.60 over the tuition paid by students who entered the program in Fall 2021 ($11,701.48).

Who will be impacted by the proposed tuition increase?

The ETI will impact students who enter the JD program in the Fall 2022 term or later. Current students will not be subject to the ETI for any year of their study.

Why is the proposed tuition increase needed?

The quality of our JD program is directly correlated to Faculty revenue. In order to continue to provide a top-tier legal education that is competitive in quality with other top Canadian law schools, we need adequate, long-term, sustainable funding. Tuition revenue is an important part of that funding.

Tuition for the JD program has not materially increased since 2004. In the 15 year period between 2004 and 2019, tuition increased only $1,381.44, partly due to a tuition freeze between 2014 and 2019. [Tuition Rates at the Faculty of Law from 1999 to Present] The 7% tuition increase approved annually from 2020 to 2022 is insufficient to make up for the extended period of time that we have had little to no increase in tuition revenue.

The ETI will enable the Faculty to:

  1. hire new faculty members so as to increase the number of full-time professors and thereby provide students with more course offerings and smaller class sizes;

  2. improve student support services, including those directed at equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity;

  3. promote access and diversity in the student body by increasing student financial aid.

If approved, how will the additional tuition revenue be used?

The ETI revenue will be invested as follows:

- 65-70% will be used to improve the quality of our programming by hiring new full-time professors. By hiring 8-9 new faculty members over three years, the Faculty will not only be able to replace retiring faculty members but also add to the overall faculty complement. This will allow us to expand course offerings in terms of both subject matter and modes of delivery, to decrease class size, and to better serve the needs of our students.

- 10-15% will be used to improve student supports that are unique to our academic program. For example, we will be able to expand the Indigenous Support Manager position from a part-time to a full-time position; hire a director of experiential learning; and hire other additional staff to serve student needs.

- 20% will be devoted toward student financial aid, focusing in particular on offering recruitment scholarships and awards for racialized, Indigenous and lower-income students.

What steps have been taken so far in regards to this proposal?

In response to an invitation extended by the Minister of Advanced Education to Alberta universities last spring, the Faculty of Law initially put forward a draft ETI proposal. That proposal called for a 45% increase in annual basic tuition over the Fall 2021 tuition rate, which would have brought our tuition to $16,967.33. In April and May, the Faculty consulted with law students and alumni regarding this proposal. The feedback we received included widespread concern about the size of the proposed ETI.

In response to this feedback, we have reduced our ETI proposal to the current 29%, which will set the tuition rate at $15,095.08 for students entering the program in Fall 2022.

What are the next steps for this proposal?

We are currently in the consultation phase for this proposal. If this proposal moves beyond the consultation phase, the ETI proposal must be approved first by the University of Alberta Board of Governors and then by the Minister of Advanced Education in order to take effect in Fall 2022.

How does U of A Law tuition compare with other Canadian law faculties?

Using Fall 2021 tuition rates, the University of Alberta Faculty of Law tuition ranks 15th among the 18 English-speaking JD programs in Canada. [Tuition Comparison 2020/2021 and 2021/2022] Only three law schools (Victoria, McGill & Manitoba) have lower tuition rates. The average tuition of the 17 other law schools is $17,261.55, or $5,560.07 more than the current U of A Law tuition.

If the ETI is approved, U of A Law will rank 12th out of 18, given the expected tuition rates of other Canadian law schools for Fall 2022, and will rank below the average of the other 17 schools by at least $2,248.62. [Tuition Comparison With Proposed ETI in Fall 2022]

The ETI will set our tuition at a rate approximately equal to that of the University of Calgary Faculty of Law (U of C JD tuition for Fall 2022 is expected to be $15,086.00).

While the comparison with other tuition rates is not, by itself, a justification for increasing tuition, it is a valuable gauge for assessing the overall reasonableness of our tuition in a competitive marketplace where students are seeking high quality programs at reasonable rates. In particular, in this competitive environment tuition rates impact the ability of an academic institution to attract and retain faculty members who are top legal scholars and teachers and to provide academic and other supports to ensure student success.

How does this proposal relate to the Faculty’s stated commitment to improving equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity?

Equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity remain priorities for the Faculty. The ETI proposal supports this commitment by providing funding to invest in and sustain initiatives directed toward these priorities. This includes, for example, creating a full-time staff position to support Indigenous students.

Further, the Faculty will devote 20% of the ETI toward student financial aid, with a particular focus on providing support in the form of recruitment awards for students who have been historically under-represented in the legal profession. We recognize our responsibility to ensure that law school is available to everyone, especially to lower-income students and those from historically under-represented groups.

Is the Faculty pursuing other funding sources?

The Faculty is always seeking support for our students and to fund enhancements to our programming, and we are deeply grateful to our many generous donors and alumni. However, because gifts to the Faculty are typically restricted in scope and allocated for specific purposes, they are not included in the Faculty’s operating budget. The Faculty is dependent on tuition and government funding to operate. Significant reductions in government funding in recent years have increased the need to rely on tuition as a source of revenue.

What opportunities are there for feedback?

The Faculty of Law encourages students to share their perspectives on the ETI proposal and to be part of this consultation process. A virtual town hall is scheduled for noon on September 23. Students can submit anonymous feedback via the Google Form they received in their inbox. The dean also welcomes feedback and can be reached directly at lawdean@ualberta.ca.

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