Editorial—Prepare to Pay More

If you’re looking to get into a course this summer, you may want to pre-purchase it right now, because as of Monday, June 29, the cost is going to go up by 2% if you use Mastercard or Visa to pay for your courses.  If you typically purchase your courses with American Express, you will simply have to make new arrangements after June 29, because it will no longer be accepted.

AU has decided to institute what it calls a convenience charge.  Meaning, I guess, that it’s a convenient way for them to balance their budget that doesn’t involve having to push back against government funding cuts.

The Voice Magazine will be exploring this program and what it means for you in a future issue, but we felt it was important that you get the information right now so you can plan a little bit ahead.

While that’s going on, however, the Alberta government is also bringing in outside advisors to look at the entire post-secondary system in Alberta and create recommendations.  The advisors are the well known US firm, the McKinsey group, and the cost to hire them almost four million dollars.  Based on their history of advising and previous reports, it is widely expected that they will (and were hired to) recommend more centralized control, more administration, and less variance in overall education systems will lead to better results for less cost, or, in essence, to recognize that economies of scale work best when you teach toward the centre of the bell-curve of students instead of the entire spectrum. What happens to students at either end of that bell-curve?  Well, that’s not their problem, now, is it?

At any rate, the report that will apparently fully analyze our post-secondary system, all aspects of it, is due to be presented by the end of this year.  How a foreign company might even fully understand a single institution in that length of time, never mind the entire system, I’m not sure, but many faculty, from all institutions, are concerned, based on the known history of the UCP, that the results of the McKinsey report have already been formulated in backroom UCP offices, and will simply be used to justify massive cost-cutting and industrialization of post-secondary education. It’s worried this will lead to a profound reduction in academic freedom both to teach and to research concepts and education that doesn’t pander directly into the employment market.  Which, if you’re a trade or vocational school, makes perfect sense.  But if you’re an institution of higher learning, where the advancement of knowledge is considered its own laudable goal, forcing them to train for the jobs of today severely limits their ability to train people for the world of the future.

This week, however, our feature article is looking at the meaning of convocation and how it might be changing with the onset of COVID-19 around the world, starting with the first change, the entire convocation being moved online and to October 2020. Plus, of course, advice, events, scholarships, recipes and more.  Enjoy the read!

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