Is a tuition fee increase from $7,000 to $28,000 an “adjustment”? That question may be considered by the Court of Appeal later this year.

Six MBA students from the University of British Columbia have filed an appeal from a decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissing their case against UBC. The students allege that the university had breached a contract when it quadrupled MBA tuition fees from $7,000 to $28,000 after they had accepted offers of admission indicating that tuition fees would be the lower amount. The university maintains, and the lower court found, that fine print in the offer enabled UBC to raise fees to any level it chose, even after the students had accepted the offers and sent in their non-refundable deposits. The contractual clause reads: “Fees for the year are subject to adjustment and the University reserves the right to change fees without notice.”

It may take some time before the students’ case will be argued, however. Lawyers for UBC have filed a motion asking the Court of Appeal to stay the appeal until the students post about ten thousand dollars in security for the University’s costs. (UBC has an annual budget of about $2.1 billion). That motion is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 in Vancouver. A date for the hearing of the appeal on its merits will be set later.

Read the decision of the B.C. Supreme Court under appeal