Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Critics take aim at provincial funding into post-secondaries

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The recent investment from the provincial government into post-secondary institutions was a result of scrambling due to problems caused by its own budget cuts, according to David Eggen, NDP critic for advanced education. 

“Albertans cannot trust what this government will do or say from one day to the next,” reads an email statement from Eggen. “Investment in post-secondary is critical to the future of Alberta, and yet they have gutted options for Albertans to access advanced education and career training.”

RELATED: Major Change: UCP government changes post-secondary funding model

Eggen pointed out Alberta saw the highest increase in tuition nationally in 2021/22. This was due to province-wide restructuring of tuition fees from the previous year, according to Stats Canada.

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“I think it’s important to keep in mind that tuition today, average undergraduate tuition in Alberta is below the national average so we still as a province are very competitive with respect to other jurisdiction and other institutions,” said Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education during an announcement at the University of Lethbridge on May 17.

RELATED: Provincial funding to open new seats in high demand post-secondary programs

Eggen said it is important for Southern Alberta to keep young people by providing access to post secondary education and career training — he said decisions by the UCP have driven students out of the province. 

“This government’s policies are leaving Albertans behind. If not for harmful choices made by the UCP, these students could have been in career training now, with options available to them sooner,” he said.

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RELATED: “Ill-advised”: U of L professors challenge province’s approach to post-secondary education

Jenn Prosser, a graduate student worker at the University of Lethbridge said she is concerned the government’s contribution shows a lack of understanding of the value and workings of a post-secondary institution.

“This is one of the challenges that post-secondary has faced in Alberta cycle over cycle — is when the government is feeling generous, they throw some money at the institutions to do certain things, like hire factuality, but what happens when that money is gone?” She said. “The factuality don’t get fired so there has to be a way to pay for things. It’s the same thing as giving money to build the building but no lights [in the] funding. It puts universities into positions where there’s no win and it downloads those costs on students directly.”

She said short-sighted decisions by the province keeps institutions one step behind.

“This government continues to think that a couple more faculty and a couple more seats will solve the problem, when every faculty member I know is overloaded right now. There are so many students trying to access these existing educational resources,” she said.

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