New AB Budget Adds $280M to PSE Funding, Freezes Tuition for 2 Years

Source: Calgary Herald via Academica

The new Alberta budget for 2015–16 will increase funding to the province’s universities, colleges, and technical schools by $280 M compared to last year. The funding will help support a two-year tuition freeze for students, a $40 M boost to base funding for schools, and a $183 M increase in student loans. $581 M of the $5.7 B overall budget will be set aside for eight major campus expansion projects. The funding announcement was met with relief by many higher education stakeholders, including Erik Queenan, President of the Students’ Association at Mount Royal University, who said that students were “really encouraged to hear the government is acknowledging the importance of post-secondary, especially in these turbulent economic times.”

AB Education Cuts Would Come at Cost of Excellence

Source: Globe and Mail via Academica

Cuts to postsecondary funding in Alberta could have dire consequences for future generations, warns young entrepreneur and Rethinking Higher Ed contributor Emerson Csorba. Csorba, Director of Gen Y Inc, a multigenerational culture consultancy, argues that the province’s education system constitutes one of its most significant advantages. Possible cuts to PSE could threaten the province’s resilience in the face of unexpected events like the recent drop in oil prices. Cuts, Csorba writes, “would allow Alberta to balance the budget in the short term at the expense of Alberta’s long-term prosperity, specifically by worsening socioeconomic disparities.” He notes that economic inequality in AB has increased at a faster rate than the national average, and argues that the province’s PSE sector has a critical role to play in narrowing the gap. AB is reportedly considering dropping its tuition fee increase cap, while institutions are preparing for likely budget cuts. Mount Royal University this week announced that it was increasing student fees by 65% for full-time students; VP Administrative Services Duane Anderson said that the increase was necessary, citing “the fiscal realities facing our province and all postsecondary institutions across Canada.”

MRU to Launch Ambitious 10-year Plan Next Month

Source: Metro News via Academica | January 26, 2015

Mount Royal University is set to unveil an ambitious 10-year strategic plan that would see the institution expand its degree offerings, roll back its applied programs, and significantly boost enrolment of Aboriginal and international students. According to a draft of the plan obtained by Metro News, MRU will look to add 4 baccalaureate degree programs and phase out its 5 applied degrees. It also hopes to increase the number of majors offered from 42 to 60 and boost total enrolment to 13,000 students by 2024–25, a 60% increase over the current number. In the draft version of the document, MRU President David Docherty describes the plan as “a framework for excellence” that “identifies our key strengths as well as areas where additional focus will benefit our students and university.” The plan, entitled Learning Together, Leading Together, will go before the board of governors for approval in late February.