Post-secondary institutions in Alberta have recently been challenged with a series of financial hardships. In the wake of budget cuts, the future of post-secondary education in this province is uncertain as its leaders face difficult choices. As student leaders we look forward to aiding in the process of improving post-secondary education in Alberta.
The Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education has indicated that the Government of Alberta will be reviewing the Post Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) this year. The opening of the act presents a tremendous opportunity to move several key issues forward for students, such as returning the tuition cap to legislation, and regulating mandatory non-instructional fees within the PSLA.
In May, CAUS identified five priorities to work on for the 2013/14 academic year.
Our priorities for the year are:
- Regulating mandatory non-instructional fees
CAUS continues to call on government to regulate non-instructional fees, allowing for fee increases only after student approval either through referendum or, at minimum, a vote at our students’ councils
- Establishing new forms of non-repayable student aid
In addition to recommending the government establish new forms of non-repayable student aid to bring the student financial aid system in Alberta back into balance, CAUS is committed to working with Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education to ensure the implementation of the $17 bursary for rural and aboriginal students helps remove barriers to entering post-secondary education for these underrepresented groups
- Legislating the tuition cap in the PSLA
Current and future students, and the families that help support them, need certainty when planning for the costs of post-secondary education. CAUS advocates for the return the tuition cap to legislation in order to provide a stable, predictable model for those looking to attend post-secondary.
- Ensuring any changes to the PSLA benefit students
It is imperative that any changes made to the PSLA during the review process maintain the current standards outlined in the act, and that further advancements are made to ensure an affordable education for students as well as strong representation at the institutions they attend.
- Re-establishing a provincial student employment program
The recent cuts to the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) leave Alberta as the only province without a provincial student employment program. CAUS believes that the province should create a new student employment program which extends beyond the summer months and is geared towards developing and implementing skills learned in study.
For a more in-depth look at these priorities, download the CAUS document Creating Opportunities for Albertans: Priorities for Strengthening Post-Secondary Education.