Students sue as MBA fees increase fourfold

August 30, 2002

Ten MBA students are suing their university after it quadrupled tuition fees three months after they were accepted on the programme.

They argue that the University of British Columbia should not expect someone who applied for a C$7,000 (£2,940) MBA to now cough up C$28,000.

Last March, after a six-year freeze, the Vancouver university used a new provincial directive to raise tuition fees.

Instead of taking three years to match the Canadian national average fee, as earlier planned, it immediately instituted a 23 per cent increase for most programmes.

Student James MacDonald says in an email obtained by The THES that one of the reasons why he chose British Columbia's MBA programme was its low fees.

Mr MacDonald says: "In my more cynical moments, the phrase 'bait and switch' comes to mind."

A statement of claim filed by Mr MacDonald's lawyer says that by sending out a letter of acceptance, the university entered into an agreement with his client. It affirmed the terms in a February notice that announced that fees would be C$7,000.

Since it did not consult Mr MacDonald before making the decision to change the fee, it was breaching a contract, says the statement of claim. The other nine students also cite breach of contract.

The university's counsel, Hubert Lai, said students always knew the tuition fees could change.

The letters of acceptance all came with the proviso that stated: "Fees for the year are subject to adjustment and the university reserves the right to change fees without notice."

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