The University of Alberta Butter Dome in Edmonton Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The University of Alberta Butter Dome in Edmonton Alta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta’s post-secondary students organizing Day of Action to protest budget cuts

Government cut funding to advanced education by 1.4%, allowed tuition hikes up to 7%

By KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter MEDICINE HAT NEWS

Post-secondary students across Alberta are joining in a Student Day of Action on Oct. 29.

The day was organized by students attending University of Calgary, University of Alberta, MacEwan University and Mount Royal University, with the aim of spreading awareness about provincial budget cuts to advanced education.

In its 2021 budget plan, the Government of Alberta cut funding to advanced education by 1.4%, which is the equivalent of $72 million, according to a report in the Calgary Herald. The government also cut operating cost funding for these institutions.

In the same plan, the government announced a five-year tuition freeze would be lifted, resulting in a tuition increase of up to 7%. This, coupled with other stressors, like the elimination of student employment opportunities, increase in loan interest rates and decrease in financial aid, is having an effect on Alberta’s student population organizers say.

They hope the event will draw attention to these issues.

“(We want to) get all the students talking about this and to create a more formalized network and coalition going forward to continue this momentum,” Chaise Combs, Faculty of Arts Students’ Association vice president of communications at University of Calgary, told the News. “I think a lot of students are dissatisfied and unhappy with the state of post-secondary education in Alberta but they feel that there’s nothing they can do about it. We want to show there is something they can do.”

At the University of Calgary’s event, information pamphlets will be handed out and guest speakers who can shed light on the potential repercussions of post-secondary budget cuts will be in attendance.

Approximately 750 full-time jobs relating to higher education could be lost in the upcoming year.

“(The decrease in funding) affects staff, whose role is to inform, process, and expedite campus student life,” said Combs. “That makes it harder for students to navigate the institution (and) access the services and resources they need to succeed in school. Even if they can access them, the staff then are overworked (and) burnout. It really reduces the quality of the student experience.”

Post-secondary Education