Edmonton, AB (February 27, 2020) - The University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) is very disappointed in the Government of Alberta’s continued lack of support for accessible, affordable, and high-quality post-secondary education. By failing to effectively prioritize student financial aid, deferred maintenance, and sustainable institutional funding, this government has proven that it has no interest in listening to students and comprehensively acting on their concerns.
“Students in Alberta already experience significant challenges and Budget 2020 will only make things more difficult,” said Akanksha Bhatnagar, UASU President. “We are already facing some of the highest student debt levels and the lowest post-secondary student enrolment in the country. But despite hundreds of hand-delivered letters, and meetings where student leaders were assured their voices were being heard, this government has not listened. By moving ahead with plans to hike our tuition 22.5% over three years, continue cuts to non-repayable financial aid, and only do the bare minimum to address failing campus infrastructure, this government has shown that students are far from their first priority.”
Costs for students will rise across the board in 2020, but the quality and availability of academic programs and support services are only set to decline. The University of Alberta is facing a cumulative cut of at least $74.5 million (11.9%) to its base operating grant, with further decreases planned for the coming years. While certain basic investments have been made, including a one-year renewal of the campus mental health grant and a scaled-back reintroduction of the infrastructure maintenance program, the overall impacts of the 2019 and 2020 budgets are decidedly negative. The overall cuts facing institutions are also likely to be compounded by the rushed introduction of performance metrics, which will reduce funding predictability even more through ‘all-stick, no-carrot’ hidden cuts.
“This government’s irresponsible approach to post-secondary education is incredibly concerning,” said Adam Brown, UASU Vice-President (External). “Although they have only been in office for 10 months, the decisions that they have made will have ramifications for students for years to come. Our students deserve so much better than this from their government, but once again, they have been let down.”
The Students’ Union is the official representative of more than 32,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
External Advocacy Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union