Alberta Budget 2020: Post-secondary universities hit hard by budget cuts
By Nathan Woolridge, News Editor
The Government of Alberta is planning to spend $114 million less on post-secondary funding than what they had planned in their 2019 budget — exposing disappointed reactions from student representation and the Mount Royal Faculty Association (MRFA).
The budget includes $2.2 billion in spending and now further introduces the government’s plan to move towards performance-based funding in universities.
The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), who represents over 100,000 university students in Alberta says, “students in Alberta are displeased with the recently announced Budget 2020.”
“Students are gravely concerned by this government’s continued cuts to post-secondary education,” said Sadiya Nazir, Chair of CAUS. “We were told the budget wouldn’t be balanced on the backs of students, but what we are seeing here is exactly that. We are already continuing to face challenges from the Fall 2019 in-year cut and with an ill-timed performance based funding model being introduced, institutions are being asked to do more with less.”
CAUS said in a release that a budget like this can have serious impacts on university students, addings students are graduating with higher levels of debt and are delaying “large life decisions such as getting married, buying a house or starting a family.”
“Increasing the cost to obtain a post-secondary education is becoming increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible to the average Albertan,” says CAUS.
In a release, the MRFA echoed CAUS’ concerns calling the budget cuts “contradictory and harmful.”
“The government claims to be taking steps to control spending while supporting the most vulnerable; however, increases to tuition being made by universities to accommodate an overall 8.3 per cent budget cut decrease access to education and increase costs. This amplifies the stress and pressures for learners, thereby making them more vulnerable,” says the MRFA release.
In a brief statement released on Feb. 28, MRU President Tim Rahilly said, “Alberta’s post-secondary institutions are major contributors to the strength of communities and the economic engine of the province. We understand, however, that Alberta faces difficult economic choices and this is reflected in yesterday’s budget. Our job now is to make these adjustments while preserving the academic rigor of an MRU education and the support necessary for students to succeed.”