EDMONTON - Last week, the UCP government released the Alberta 2030: Skills for Jobs report. The coalition of organizations behind the Stop PSE Cuts campaign is ringing the alarm about how this document–which is very light on details–outlines radical changes to the governance structures away from local control and signals a major shift to vocational job training at all levels of post-secondary education.
“This report is setting the stage for the privatization and increased corporate influence on our world-class post-secondary education system,” said Brad Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “While public investment as a share of total spending on post-secondary education has been steadily declining, this expensive PR exercise fails to point out the provincial government has deeply slashed post-secondary funding, including a $170 million cut to the University of Alberta alone and a cut of nearly $690 million in total to the sector in just two and half years.”
“This report purports to have undertaken an extensive consultation process, but they neglected to consult any support staff union or association,” said Lisa Dublin, from the Non-Academic Staff Association. “Support staff at our universities and colleges have suffered massive job losses and borne the brunt of the immediate effects of cuts. Support staff are essential to the work and learning conditions of students. The impact of the cuts will have long-lasting effects on workers in the province, affecting staff workload and mental health for those who remain after the budget cuts.”
“Funding remains a major issue,” said Rowan Ley, Chair of the Council of Alberta University Students. “The government keeps telling our universities to do more with much less and the Alberta 2030 plan doesn't change that. Many of the priorities in the Alberta 2030 strategy are important, such as promises to improve how the province handles student financial aid, campus sexual violence, mental health, and other high priorities, however these all come at a cost. Students remain concerned about the cost and accessibility of education as tuition is still slated to rise another 7%, for a total increase of at least 22.5% since the current government was formed. Students are hopeful further clarity can be provided as additional details on the implementation of the strategy’s goals are released. ”
“Alberta 2030 over emphasises the role of the university to provide basic job training,” says Dr. Kevin Kane, President of CAFA and Professor of Medical Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Alberta. “University education just does not impart the specific skills of today, but instead university education develops critical thinking, higher order problem solving and many advanced communications skills. These qualities provide our graduates with durable and transferable capacities that will help them develop rewarding and successful careers. This provincial government must stop their ideological vision of creating a university system that is just providing students with entry level jobs. Instead, it must unleash the innovative potential of our faculty, staff and students to develop the economy and future of Alberta."
The Stop PSE cuts campaign is an effort of a coalition of organizations representing over 154,000 undergraduate and graduate students, over 11,000 faculty and instructors, and over 13,000 support staff in Alberta’s post-secondary education system. We exist to advocate for an accessible, affordable, and sustainable post-secondary education sector so that Alberta can thrive. Participate today in our social media day of action to demand an end to post-secondary education cuts!