International News Desk – At Home and Abroad

At Home: Alberta Budget Ominous on Tuition
The Alberta Budget has come down, and with it, the amount that Alberta will provide to its “public” post-secondary institutions. Contributions to post-secondary operating costs and student bursaries will be cut by 55 million dollars. More concerning though is the government is suggesting that it needs to re-examine the balance between private and public funding of its post-secondary institutions, and that it wants to concentrate on removing what it considers to be “low-value” programs.

It should be noted that so-called private schools in Alberta receive public funding of up to 70%, while our public post-secondary institutions receive only 58% public funding. Because of the current formula, Athabasca University’s funding sits at around 30% public.

Around the Globe: Cutting Costs Increases Cheating
The Age in Australia is reporting on a story about how Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers are feeling pressures to pass incompetent students. The Australian Education Union TAFE president has said that cuts over the past four years has put pressure on teachers to reduce their contract hours while protecting the income stream that students represent. With a growing percentage of a college’s funding coming directly from tuition fees, every failed student represents a significant loss of revenue for the institution. This doubly applies when it comes to international students.

At the same time, demanding that teachers reduce contract hours means that all students receive less attention, less help, and, as a consequence, may not be able to fulfil the requirements that would allow them to continue on in their studies.

Dr. McComas Taylor, who is the head of the Australian National University’s South Asian program comments in The Sydney Morning Herald that “just as governments have become addicted to gambling revenues from poker machines, universities have become addicted to revenue streams from international students.” A professor from a business school at a North South Wales university has said that there is “unbelievable pressure” to pass these international students from the administrators who “don’t want a cool flow of income being interrupted by real world problems”