Thursday, December 7, 2023

Lethbridge Post Secondary thoughts on the 2023 budget

The province released the budget for 2023 on February 28th, and the University of Lethbridge will be receiving funding for its project to revitalize its original building.

President of the University of Lethbridge, Mike Mahon, is happy to see some positive things come from the budget, like the $3 million towards the second phase of the Destination Project which will revitalize and reconceptualize the University Hall, the original building of the University that was constructed in the early 1970’s.

Other parts of the budget that Mahon was pleased with is the funding for high demand areas like technology, business and health sciences, as well as realizing the high cost of education and the strain it can have on students.

“Over the last number of years, with the need to increase tuition and the rising cost of inflation, students have struggled to be able to both pay for their secondary education, but also be able to pay for their housing and food,” says Mahon. “So putting funding into these areas is really important from our perspective.”

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Though there is a cap for tuition coming, accessibility for students could still be affected. Mahon says due to this, it will still continue to be a challenge for students to pursue post-secondary education and that’s why the University has started a campaign to raise funds for more scholarships.

“We have a new campaign where we’ve dedicated $10 million in matching so that we can try and entice donors to contribute funding to creating scholarships at the University of Lethbridge as a way to continue to look at how we make higher education as successful as possible,” says Mahon.

The cap could also have an effect on both faculty and students, but according to Mahon, that all depends on what inflation will look like in the upcoming years.

“I think two per cent is a reasonable number on the one hand, but if inflation is very high, and that’s something that we’ll have to continue to talk to the government about, because what we don’t want to have to do is begin to cut things as a way to manage the cost running the university because of high inflation.”

MLA for Lethbridge West, Shannon Phillips, says that there are still areas and programs in post-secondary that aren’t capped and funds across Alberta will be taken from post-secondaries.

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“It’s capped at two per cent, but there are a number of programs that it’s not capped for and there’s no question that we still have a billion dollars across the province that has been taken out of post secondary institutions.”

While Lethbridge College President and CEO, Dr. Brad Donaldson, says “In the current inflationary environment, Alberta Budget 2023 helps with affordability for students through predictable tuition and improvements to the student loan system. We continue to work with the Government of Alberta to ensure high quality delivery to meet the needs of our students and community.”

The 2023 budget can be found on the Province of Alberta’s website.

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