Provincial Budgets and Funding Model Changes Impact UCALGARY STUDENTS

As students, we are all concerned about the impact the provincial budget and the changes proposed to post-secondary institution funding will have on us and our campus. Your Students’ Union is are working hard to ensure that student voices are heard by both the university and the provincial government.

Actions to date include:

  • Lobbying the Minister of Advanced Education and Advanced Education Critic to voice concerns about tuition increases and fears about potential loss of funding for services on campus
  • Collaborating with our provincial counterparts at other student associations through our membership in the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), which collectively represents over 100,000 undergraduate students in Alberta
  • On January 29, CAUS met with the Ministry of Advanced Education to provide preliminary feedback on their proposed performance-based funding (PBF) metrics
  • SLC’s concerns surrounding PFB were collected and presented at General Faculties Council on February 13
  • On February 21, the same critiques, along with a letter explaining the SU’s position on PBF as a system, was sent to the Ministry of Advanced Education, the Board of Governors, and university administration.
  • On March 4, along with providing constructive feedback, SLC vetoed the introduction of a new university mandatory non-instructional fee
  • On March 11, the SU President and VP External, along with over a dozen other student leaders from across the province, met with the Minister of Advanced Education to discuss concerns with Budget 2020
  • On March 27, CAUS called for the implementation of performance-based funding to be halted due to COVID-19 and lack of meaningful consultation with students.
  • On March 30, the SU called on the Minister of Advanced Education to use the two-month pause in PBF implementation to engage in meaningful consultation with students
  • On April 9, the SU President and VP External, along with over a dozen other student leaders from across the province, met with the Minister of Advanced Education to discuss COVID-19 and ongoing concerns with performance-based funding

We will continue to keep students updated by adding to this page as information becomes available. See what the media is saying on our SU in the News page. Information on Budget 2019 and changes to tuition and fees approved for 2020/21 can be found here.

What We Know

UCalgary is facing a further cut to their base operating grant in 2020/21.

  • The University of Calgary is estimating their Campus Alberta Grant cut to be $26.7 million (~ 6%) from 2019
  • This follows a $32.9 million (6.9%) in-year cut to the UCalgary grant in 2019 that resulted in over 250 job losses
  • Overall, the post-secondary sector is facing a 6% cut with a total of $114 million (5.5% decrease over 2019) cut from campus operating grants
  • Cuts will not be the same at every institution
  • The government expects further job losses, stating in their fiscal plan that “staffing reductions have begun and will continue as the plans are implemented”
  • Other sectors, including Agriculture and Forestry, Health, and Education will also see cuts that will impact research and educational opportunities at post-secondary institutions across the province
  • Update: UCalgary has confirmed that they will eliminate a further 125-150 positions as a direct result of these cuts

An outcomes-based funding model will put 15% of institutional funding at risk in addition to the base grant cut

  • Announced in January 2020, this move to a Performance-Based Funding (PBF) model will be implemented by April 2020
  • The ministry originally planned to implement up to 15 metrics to measure institutional performance
  • Three-year Investment Management Agreements (IMAs) will replace annual operating agreements
  • By 2022/23, 40% of institutional funding will be tied to PBF metrics
  • Consultation has not taken place with individual student associations, but critiques provided by the SU and CAUS have been submitted to the ministry
  • Following these critiques, the Minister of Advanced Education stated that between 3 to 6 metrics will be introduced in the first year with between 8 and 12 total by the third year
  • Update 1: Implementation of performance-based funding and 3-year investment management agreements will be delayed until May 31, 2020 and is considering scaling down the total number of metrics to 10 total
  • Update 2: The ministry is now considering implementing between 5-6 metrics total, with some metrics coming in to effect later than originally anticipated due to COVID-19

On-campus mental health funding has been confirmed for 2020/21

  • Previously, a 3-year $25.8 million commitment was in place until March 31, 2020
  • Under this previous model, UCalgary received $1 million annually for mental health programming and services
  • Budget 2020 commits to $8.8 million for the 2020/21 academic year only
  • It is unclear how this funding will be divided among Alberta’s 26 post-secondary institutions or whether UCalgary will receive the same amount as previous years
  • The Minister of Advanced Education was unable to confirm whether this funding will continue beyond 2020/21.
  • Update: UCalgary’s allocation for 2020-21 will be $925,000 ($75,000 less than 2019-20). The Provost has committed to budgeting an additional $150,000 towards mental health supports on campus.

The Government expects institutions to collect an additional $290 million in tuition revenue (an increase of 6.9% on average per year) between 2020/21 and 2022/23

  • The 7% cap on tuition will remain in place for these years
  • Program caps of 10% will remain in place
  • International tuition will remain unregulated
  • There was no change in the commitment to return the tuition cap to CPI after 2022/23
  • Student aid (in the form of loans) will increase by $12.8 million in 2020/21. Upfront scholarships and bursaries will not increase.

Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP) funding has been reinstated

  • $118.5 million will be allocated in 2020/21
  • This funding was reduced to $0 in Budget 2019 from $119 million in 2018
  • Funding commitments to ongoing capital projects made prior to 2019, including the MacKimmie Tower Redevelopment, are still in place
  • Update: The government announced that Capital Maintenance and Renewal will be doubled (from $937 million to $1.9 billion) in 2020-21, with a portion of this being allocated to post-secondary institutions (for approximately $210 million in total IMP funding)

New programs are proposed to encourage international students to start businesses in Alberta

  • An Alberta Advantage Immigration Strategy will be developed to offer a “startup visa” that will fast-track immigration processes for international students who commit to starting businesses in Alberta
  • A Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Program will offer similar “fast track immigration opportunities for foreign nationals who have graduated from Alberta post-secondary institutions”

Student tax credits remain cut, interest on student loans remains increased, STEP remains cancelled

  • These changes were implemented following Budget 2019. For details, see our Budget 2019 page. In summary:
    • Students no longer receive provincial tax credits during their studies
    • Interest rates on provincial student loans increased to prime +1% (including previously incurred loans)
    • The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP), which provided wage subsidies to small businesses to hire students, was cancelled

WHAT Can Students Do?

Send us your concerns

We want to hear how the changes to post-secondary education funding and potential tuition increases will impact you personally. We will take your concerns directly to the university’s Board of Governors and the Minister of Advanced Education.

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Let the university know what’s important to students

The Provost and Vice President (Academic) has published information about tuition and fee increases on their website.

  • The university has indicated they will host a town hall on March 16.
  • Update 1: This will be livestream-only with no in-person component.
  • Update 2: This event has been cancelled.

UCalgary Executive Leadership will host a town hall on Budget 2020 and their COVID-19 response on April 21 from 3-4 pm. It will be live streamed on the UCalgary COVID-19 website.

Contact your MLA

Let them know the impact how the cuts to post-secondary education funding and potential tuition increases will impact you personally. Hon. Demetrios Nicolaides is the Minister of Advanced Education, MLA David Eggen is the Advanced Education Critic, Hon. Jason Copping is Minister of Labour and Immigration and MLA for Calgary-Varsity (where UCalgary is located), or find your representative using the map below.