Students' Union warns that new provincial funding model for post-secondary institutions may disguise additional cuts

News Staff - Mon Jan 20, 2020

Edmonton, AB (January 20, 2020) - The University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) is warning that the Provincial Government’s new performance-based funding initiative for post-secondary institutions may disguise additional cuts.

Today, the Ministry announced that up to 40% of the Campus Alberta Grant will be tied to performance measures, to be phased in over the next three years. The UASU is pleased to see that work-integrated learning, underrepresented learner enrolment, and graduate skills are among the listed priorities.

“Performance-based funding can be great in theory,” said Akanksha Bhatnagar, UASU President. “But if every metric gets its own capped pot of money, funding can’t go anywhere but down, no matter how much success these schools achieve. There’s no incentive for excellence, just penalties for not measuring up. From what has been announced so far, this model is all stick, no carrot.”

The UASU strongly believes that a fair performance-based funding model will need to account for external factors beyond the control of post-secondary institutions. “The MacKinnon Report already chose to target some schools for their graduation rates in years when Alberta’s economy was struggling,” said Adam Brown, UASU VP Academic. “Poor graduate outcomes aren’t just about the quality of education, especially now, when Edmonton has the worst unemployment of all major cities in Canada.”

Given the amount of money at risk, the UASU is also concerned about the Ministry’s short timeline to implementation. “Alberta’s university students are out of the loop so far,” said Brown, “and we’re not the only ones. With the next provincial budget cuts coming up, we’re worried that the Ministry and the University may not have the time or capacity to transition into the new model in a safe and predictable way.”

The Students’ Union is the official representative of more than 32,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Robert Nelson
External Advocacy Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union

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