Editorial—Summer Holidays

Recently, Alberta Premiere, Danielle Smith, provided a new mandate letter to her new Advanced Education Minister, Rajan Sawhney.  In it were 17 points that she wants the Advanced Education Minister to focus on.  Not one of those includes dictating where universities need to hire from, so perhaps after this current IMA expires, Athabasca University will be free to resume its strategy that was reducing costs to the university and widening the pool of professionals that it has available to hire from.

Some people noted with concern that one of the points included working with career colleges and other educational institutions to develop pathways to become fully accredited.  Which basically means finding a way that private colleges and institutions can offer fully accredited degrees.  Personally, I have no problem with this, so long as that way doesn’t involve providing private institutions with public funds, especially when the funds for our public institutions are more limited.  If those private institutions can meet the rigour required of public institutions to develop new degrees, why not let them do the same thing?

No, what bothers me more about the mandate letter is the idea of being told to “develop and promote career educational scholarships in areas of labour shortage for Alberta’s K-12 students.”  I’ve mentioned the problem with this before, being that there is a lag time in education.  And trying to line students in grade-school or earlier with a career is simply a good way to waste a lot of money on sending kids into areas that may be oversaturated by the time they graduate, or simply employment they figure out really isn’t as enjoyable as they thought it would be when they were ten or eleven years old.

And I wonder about the point requiring a review of professional governing bodies and post-secondary institutions to make recommendations to protect the free speech rights of Alberta professionals.  So far as I know, there are no limitations currently aside from professional organizations having difficulties with people who make false statements that could damage the organization’s reputation or the safety of the public.  Are those the free speech rights she’s looking to protect?

Beyond that, however, most of the points in the mandate letter I find unobjectionable, and some, such as a Graduate Retention Tax Credit to keep Alberta graduates working in Alberta for a time after their education, seem to be good ideas.  So, while I still don’t feel assured about the future of post-secondary under a UCP government, let’s just say I have some cautious optimism now.

Meanwhile, this week in The Voice Magazine, we’re featuring a new student interview with a student who doesn’t really have study advice but has some solid advice for keeping motivated throughout your program.  We’ve also got a new fiction feature that’s worth a read, and I chose to feature the latest [blue rare] as it appeals to the cynic within.  Plus our usual cavalcade of advice, events, scholarships, reviews, and more!

On thing I need to mention though is that as we’re entering the dog days of summer, there will be no new Voice Magazine next week, as I’ll be taking a short vacation to enjoy a bit of the summer, assuming the heat doesn’t keep me squirrelled away in the basement here.

So, enjoy the read!