Alberta’s Universities And Colleges On Starvation Rations

University of Calgary Students' Union campaigns for more funding

CALGARY – Students at the University of Calgary want to know if help is on the way for Alberta’s ailing post-secondary education system.

“The Alberta government is failing our university and college system, and we don’t understand why the richest province in Canada continues to starve our post-secondary education system” says University of Calgary Students’ Union president Bryan West.

The Students’ Union is working to make education a hot political issue and urge voters to think education when they vote.

“We launched a major television advertising campaign this week, to present the facts to Albertans”, West notes. “Over the past ten years funding for post-secondary education has decreased while student tuition has doubled, and recent studies suggest the quality of our system now ranks seventh of ten in Canada.”

Students think that the government is starving education. “Here we are in 2004, a debt-free province with the largest surplus in history, and despite this prosperity our education system faces crippling debt due to under funding. We believe Alberta’s future depends on new investment in post-secondary education”, West added.

In addition to the television advertising campaign, the Students’ Union has organized a Political Action Week which will run from Monday, November 15 to Friday, November 19. The festival features debates, all-candidate forums, a political film festival, creation of a student wall of debt, a soup kitchen and other special events such as a symbolic bake sale to raise money for the University of Calgary.

Facts and background about tuition in Alberta:

Alberta is debt-free with the largest surplus in history.

70% of new jobs need a certificate, diploma or degree.

Over the past 10 years, funding for post-secondary has decreased 20% while tuition has doubled.

The quality of our post secondary system now ranks seventh of ten in Canada.

The U of C Students’ Union has a free tuition calculator at http://www.thinkeducation.ca/. The calculator is featured in one of the campaign commercials, which depicts a young boy calculating his future tuition assuming he will study medicine and begin school in 2012. The tuition calculator suggests his education will cost $339,732.21.

A calculation based on current rates is also informative: The calculator also shows that a student beginning an undergraduate program in 2005 and living away from home will pay $61,241.45 for his or her degree in Alberta. The current Alberta student loan program allows students no more than $40,000 in educational funding for an undergraduate degree, over their lifetime. At these rates, student loans in Alberta will cover just over 5 of the required 8 semesters needed for an undergraduate degree, after which time no further funding is available.

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