Cuts to the University of Alberta freeze Albertans out of Higher Education
With the Faculty of Arts cutting 20 programs and the Faculty of Science slashing enrollment for the second year in a row by 300 seats, students are bearing the full brunt of the U of A’s budget cuts.
The Government of Alberta promised that Alberta’s budget would not be balanced “on the backs” of students, yet it has become clear that the $43 million cut from the U of A’s operating budget is now shutting Albertans out of their own university programs.
“With 600 spots in Science cut in just two years, more and more Albertans are going to be prevented from pursuing post-secondary education,” explained Vice President Academic Dustin Chelen. “Likewise, the proposed suspension of Arts programs, coming suddenly in late August, has forced students to face the quickly approaching semester in a state of confusion, as they continue to learn about these institutional changes from the media, and not the university.”
“The lack of transparency over these budgetary decisions makes it unclear as to what extent, if at all, these measures will actually help solve the U of A’s deficit. The U of A is a public institution, and Albertans are right to be concerned that current and future students are paying the price for the U of A’s budgetary deficit.”
Government of Alberta to Review U of A’s Finances
Students have recently learned that the Government will be reviewing the U of A’s finances. It is unclear at this point how transparent the process will be, how involved students will be as U of A stakeholders, or what this means for overall financial transparency at the U of A.
The Students’ Union believes that students and the academy should be privy to detailed budgetary information and should be part of any financial reviews of the institution, especially in light of recent budget cuts.
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External Communications & Media Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union
The Collective Body of Arts Students, which represents students in the Faculty of Arts, said in a statement:
“Last Friday (August 16, 2013), the Dean of Arts announced that admissions to programs in the Faculty of Arts with historically low enrollment will be suspended effective immediately. In the memo sent out to Department Chairs, which is available to the public, Dean Cormack outlined the process used in determining which programs will be cut.
One of the guiding principles was that student demand should dictate which programs will continue to receive funding and support. Remaining relevant with students is a value that CBAS holds, however we do not agree with the definition currently used by the faculty. Demand needs to be based on the number of students applying to the program, not the number currently enrolled in the program.
CBAS does not support the suspension of arts programs that will limit opportunities available to future arts students. CBAS will endeavor to work with the faculty to minimize the effect these suspensions will have on current and future students. While we understand the current financial realities our institution faces, we cannot support actions that hinder any present or prospective students of the Faculty of Arts.”
Questions for CBAS may be directed to Kelsey Mills at email@example.com
The decision to suspend the programs in Arts will be made after feedback has been received by the Dean of Arts on September 3rd. Students are encouraged to also send their feedback to the SU to help inform the formal decision-making process. Letters should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society, which represents students in the Faculty of Science, said in a statement:
“The ISSS believes that a decreased enrollment in the Faculty of Science and an entrance average of over 80% is detrimental to the Faculty and to the province of Alberta as a whole. There is a high demand for Science degrees, as students want to be in Science, but the cuts will ultimately prevent a large number of Albertans from having this opportunity.
Beyond preventing students from getting a Science education, the cuts will decrease the quality of education for students in the Faculty (with a decrease in academic/non-academic staff and course suspensions). Time spent interacting with professors is essential to a quality education; larger class sizes and less diversity in course options will negatively impact the quality of our education.
As previously released, the Faculty of Science is seriously looking at introducing fees specific to our lab sections, though we've yet to see any details surrounding what the fees will cover. We may end up paying more for less quality and diversity in our education.”
Shauna Regan 2013-2014 President
Fahim Rahman 2013-2014 VP Academic
Questions for ISSS may be directed to Shauna Regan at email@example.com