In real terms, Alberta has seen a shocking 9% drop in post-secondary education (PSE) funding in the past year, and a 31% total drop in the past five years. Recent analysis by Higher Education Strategy Associates spotlights the real change in funding to institutions and the wide discrepancies between Alberta and other provinces.
It is clear that Budget 2022 and the legacy of the last four years have shifted the cost of funding post-secondary to Alberta’s families and students. Meanwhile, provinces like BC and Quebec have continued to invest in post-secondary education and increased contributions by 10%-16%.
“It’s alarming. We’ve had years of cuts to post-secondary education (PSE),” says UASU President Abner Monteiro, “and during one of the hardest periods for students, faculty and staff, the University of Alberta has seen the most staggering cuts in Canada. The Government of Alberta needs to step up and support greater investment in post-secondary education to help Alberta's young people thrive again.”
The University of Alberta has absorbed a disproportionate amount of the provincial cuts to post-secondary education. This has led many to question the widening grants to loans imbalance and repeat calls from the UASU for more needs-based grants. As of Jan 2022, the Government of Alberta provides students with only 13 cents of needs-based support for every dollar of debt it gives out — the lowest rate in Canada. Young Albertans are forced to incur Canada's highest levels of student debt for a fair chance at education. Alberta's stingy granting system locks many more young people out of pursuing professional programs and post-secondary education entirely. The Minister of Advanced Education also recently approved exceptional tuition increases ranging from 17% to 45% for specific undergraduate programs, offloading even greater costs onto students and their families.
“It’s deeply irresponsible to underfund our future in this way,” says VP External Christian Fotang. “We know that investing in high quality education and student jobs will prepare students for the future, diversify our economy, create a competitive workforce, employ thousands of people, and lead to innovative research. There's no excuse for damaging our province's future by neglecting these priorities. Students are just trying to get by.”
About the University of Alberta Students’ Union
The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
External Relations Specialist
University of Alberta Students’ Union