The CAUS proposal to end provincial tuition and education tax credits included in our budget recommendations has received a fair amount of attention lately. That might make some sense – after all it is not everyday that students call for the government to end a program.
We believe that few students, if any, come to university just because they receive a tax credit. But what we do know is that many Albertans never go to post-secondary education because of financial reasons. Alberta has the third highest tuition in the country so it is no wonder that some are being left out because of money – in fact Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada.
What is key to our proposal is that up-front grants represent the best way to get students into university, to reduce those barriers that Albertans find when trying to get a degree. Tax credits may be nice when you are filling out your return in March but do little to pay your tuition when you need it in September.
Shifting resources from tax credits to up-front grants is only a part of our proposal to re-invest in post-secondary education. Alberta’s universities and their graduates are where Alberta’s future prosperity lies and we need to make a priority in the upcoming provincial budget.