Alberta’s universities have had campus radio stations for many decades – longer than I have been alive – and in that time have become a valuable part of not just the campus community, but the greater community in which they are situated. In a world where people are bombarded with commercial mainstream media we see more and more people seeking out alternative sources of information and media and campus radio was pioneering that long before the age of YouTube and blogs.
The idea of commercial-free radio goes beyond just avoiding ads between content, it is about being free and independent to pursue new ideas, provide content that isn’t driven by advertisers and that is something that fits perfectly with the mandate of universities and their students. That’s why students support their radio stations directly – modest, referendum-approved fees provide some of the operating revenue to these radio stations. In return they offer a rich volunteer experience to interested campus community members, offer news and event coverage on-campus and provide an alternative voice you can’t find elsewhere.
Student fees aren’t the only source of income – pledge drives are a vital part of keeping commercial-free radio alive and thriving at our institutions. All three of our university radio stations are holding their pledge drives RIGHT NOW – and you should consider donating.
Visit their websites, listen online or over the airwaves, and check out the great rewards for donating.
I was reading through the Campus Alberta Planning Framework and reviewing the annual report from Alberta Advanced Education and Technology this morning and got to thinking about expectations on enrolment. It is no secret that our participation rate here in Alberta is low, the lowest in Canada. The Government of Alberta measures what percentage of 18-34 year olds are enrolled in some form of post-secondary, and at 16.9% we are the lowest in Canada and 8% back of the national leader, Quebec.
Many people, including Minister Doug Horner, have lamented this participation rate. There are of course many factors that lead to the this poor participation rate – our still relatively booming economy, the opportunity cost compared to earnings in the energy sector and so-on. Other factors that government has more control over are things like our system capacity and the cost of getting a degree.
The question that popped in my head was what our goal was. Even with the lowest participation rate in Canada it might shock you to know that the Government of Alberta still met its target – the goal is for 17% of 18-24 year olds, and rounded up that is what we have.
Why are we striving to be the worst in Canada? With all of the resources our province has you would think that we could dream bigger than that. We should revisit that goal, set a high standard and then strive to meet it. Lower costs, increase spaces and improve access.
The Wildrose Alliance just announced their advanced education policy at the University of Calgary, and you can also see it here online.
This is the first of what will be many announcements about post-secondary education leading up to the next election. It is evident that post-secondary education is a important issue for many Albertans, and that is reflected not just in today’s announcement but opinion polls and government policy as well.
The Wildrose Alliance has quickly made a mark in Alberta politics and while it remains to be seen what will happen between now and the next election it is exciting to see them advocating for changes they believe would improve access to post-secondary education for Albertans.
Within their announcement is a call to limit tuition to inflation, end assumed parental contribution as a resource in student loan applications and increasing debt forgiveness, all CAUS policies.
As a non-partisan organization, our excitement goes well beyond today’s announcement as we look forward to working with all parties and seeing what ideas everyone is going to bring to the table in regards to increasing access and affordability.
Beyond the Wildrose Alliance, you can see all of the main political parties policies on post-secondary education below: