Editorial—Buckling Up Again

Once again, post-secondary in Alberta is being told to tighten its belt.  Have you ever noticed that there never is an article about how post-secondary is being allowed to let its belt out?  At any rate, the most recent Alberta budget has been released, and, as expected, it’s post-secondary education that will be taking the bulk of the UCP’s attempts to make themselves look fiscally responsible.

Post-secondary institutions are being expected to cut about 750 positions across the province, but the UCP admits it has no idea which positions will be cut.  However, because the UCP is also giving post-secondary institutions notice that the amount of their costs they will be expected to cover is going up to 52% from the current 47% you can expect that universities will be looking particularly hard at those positions that don’t stand to generate any direct profit. (AU, in case you’re interested, already covers much more than that because the AB government does not consider students from outside the province as anything that AU should get Alberta funding for.)

So, positions in mental health, ombudsmen, and really, any position that exists only to assist current students in any area aside from their direct expenditures (ie, courses) is at risk.  Positions that serve to increase enrolment or funding (such as advertising designers, assessments, alumni relations, etc), however, are probably safe(r).

With the UCP government now requiring universities to fund the majority of their operation, it becomes apparent why they went to such length to remove the word “Public” from any and all schooling systems across the province.  Truth in advertising, as it were. They didn’t want the names reminding us of what these school systems should be.

Also, a portion of that remaining funding will be tied to currently unspecified metrics.  These metrics are usually tied to employment rates of graduates, which, while a stupid way of funding a university in the first place (why punish current students for previous student performance?), is an absolutely horrible way to fund post-secondary in a boom and bust economy that needs funding to ramp up when our commodity price falls so people can get retrained and start working quickly again.

But never fear, Alberta will at least remain the lowest taxed province in the nation.  Ensuring that all those people who don’t have jobs and can’t afford an education to qualify for a better one won’t have to pay a high percentage of their non-existent income.  Because that’s somehow helpful.

But wait, the UCP is going to table their recall legislation in the spring apparently.  Then we might finally get some action, right?  Don’t bet on it, the recall legislation requires 40% of the eligible voters sign on within a 90-day period.  Most ridings don’t see 40% turn-out during the actual election.  So the UCP has done what they can to make sure they’re not in any danger of actually having the legislation used.

On the bright side, this week’s Voice Magazine is one of the better ones once again!  Not only do we have a fascinating interview with AU student, Ginger Snap (also known as Bryan Eden), we’ve also got a powerful parenting article by Jessica Young, and our own Barb Lehtiniemi tells us how she’s broken into writing for the mass-market!  Plus advice, events, scholarships, recipes, thoughtful examinations of what it is to be an AU student, and more!  Enjoy the read!