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Alberta Budget continues to squeeze students
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Students’ Union is disappointed but not surprised by the continued lack of support shown by the UCP government towards students. The provincial budget revealed continued deep cuts to post-secondary that will see tuition and student costs rise while also forcing the university to cut supports and services that students use.
The university expects a nearly $90 million cut to their budget based on previous and current provincial budgets. As a result, students can expect to see their tuition increase by up to 22.5% by the time this budget is fully implemented. In another short-sighted move the government eliminated the tuition tax credit which amounts to a $200 million tax hike on students and their families.
“If students were to receive a better, higher quality education by paying more that would be easier to swallow, but the university is being forced to cut staff in addition to raising tuition. Online learning also doesn’t provide the same campus experience. In short, thanks to these continued cuts students are paying a lot more and getting far less.” – Frank Finley, SU President
Beyond the cuts, the SU is disappointed to see no plan to help undergraduate students find work this summer or once they graduate. Last year nearly one-third of students surveyed were unable to find any summer work at all. Another 12% indicated they found summer work, but their employer cancelled the position. Students are facing dwindling summer job prospects while being asked to pay more for their educations.
“Students are struggling to cover the cost of their education already and a lack of summer opportunities means they will go further into debt and be unable to even cover their basic expenses as well. We encouraged the province to bring back the STEP program or a similar student job program. Our calls have fallen on deaf ears.” – Marley Gillies, SU VP External
Silver linings in the budget were non-existent. For the last five years the provincial government has committed funds for post-secondary student mental health services and supports. There appears to be no such commitment in the 2021 budget. The SU hopes that the province did not cut mental health funding for students in the midst of a pandemic.
Overall, the SU is incredibly disappointed with the government’s lack of commitment to post-secondary education. While the UCP government cries poor, it has provided $4.5 billion in tax cuts to corporations and lost more than $1.5 billion in the Keystone XL deal. Investing even a portion of those funds in universities or colleges would have prepared students for jobs in the new economy and provide a solid boost to student and new graduate employment. Instead, more and more educated young Albertans are leaving the province for greener pastures.
Media Inquiries may be directed to:
Mike Brown, External Communications Specialist