On November 6th, Deputy Premier and Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, Thomas Lukaszuk, announced that the Government of Alberta will re-invest $50 million into the 20 Campus Alberta institutions that were affected by the $147 million cuts made in Budget 2013. The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) welcomes the re-investment as a positive step, but believes that much more needs to be done in order to reverse the impacts of the spring cuts to operating grants.
While it is encouraging to see the government re-investing in Alberta post-secondary, this money comes part way through the year when many budget decisions have already been made. Students across our province have seen some of the best professors leaving through voluntary severance packages, programs they wish to peruse no longer being offered, and overall fewer spaces open for students looking to study at Alberta’s universities. The additional funding for the 2013/14 academic year is certainly a step in the right direction, but much more will need to be done in order to ensure stable, predictable funding for institutions and a return in quality to Campus Alberta.
From the $50 million, the University of Alberta will receive $14.4 million, the University of Calgary will receive 10.6 million, and the University of Lethbridge will receive 2.4 million. According to the Government of Alberta press release, the increase in funding was made to “help institutions adjust to current enrolment pressures and prepare for even greater enrolments next year” and will become part of the institutional base operating grant for future years. As Alberta currently has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada, this is an important step in ensuring greater access to post-secondary education for all interested Albertans, and CAUS agrees in the specific purpose that this money has been allocated to. However, students caution that it is still too early to tell exactly how each institution will choose to allocate its funds.
While Premier Redford promised that the budget would not be balanced on the backs of students, larger class sizes, reduced faculty, cancellation of smaller classes and programs, and increases to the mandatory non-instructional fees that students are required to pay have all had significant impacts on the student experience across Campus Alberta. CAUS is looking to the government to seize Budget 2014 as an opportunity to fully reinvest in Alberta post-secondary institutions and their students, recognizing that post-secondary is the key driver of our continued prosperity as a province.
A detailed breakdown of the funding distribution per institution can be found in the government press release