Welcome to the Fall 2013 semester, and the beginning of the fall of higher education at Mount Royal University.
After higher education was cut by $100-million province-wide, our institution was left reeling — choosing to suspend eight programs; cutting $3-million of administrative support; freezing executive salaries; offering staff voluntary furlough days; cutting staff benefits; cutting 63 full-time positions — 23 of which were vacant; and $4.5-million of institutional costs.
The university was already running a operating deficit — meaning that the cuts had to fill a $14-million dollar hole, including $6.5-million cut from the provinces budget.
What this is essentially means is that students in degree Engineering, diploma Theatre Arts, diploma Music Performance, diploma Disability Studies, certificate Forensics, certificate Journalism and certificate Neonatal/Perinatal Nursing were left in the lurch for the foreseeable future at MRU.
Granted, MRU students are suffering the same as students throughout all of Alberta, but the degree of program cuts at this institution is difficult to swallow — especially when you consider that MRU theatre and music students specifically were regarded as some of the best in Canada — something this publication has had the pleasure of reporting on for many years.
A provincial budget is unfortunately something that is out of the hands of an institution. This means we must shift the blame higher and the fact that we allow post-secondary to be manhandled by our government that offers incentives to foreign oil companies to extract the liquid currency of this province to the tune of billions of dollars in profit is borderline insanity.
It is clear where the Progressive Conservative Party’s oil profit priorities are, but to mortgage the future of this province so that one day Albertans may receive another Ralph Buck $400 dividend is simply an insult to the middle class.
Yes, Alberta is a boom and bust economy, but to punish those who choose not to work in industries of boom and bust — like nursing and disability studies — is unfair and shortsighted.
The province’s budget didn’t charge Shell or British Petroleum for their budget oversights, they charged the voting minority — the educated middle class.
Thanks for that.