By Letter to the Editor on January 23, 2020.
The latest word from the UCP government that universities will face a “performance-based model of funding starting April 1” may be the most depressing announcement yet.
As Albertans, we are being forced to diversify and transition our economy away from oil and gas. This is a hard transition and we’ve experienced the effects of this difficulty sharply. How long this transition will take or what it will look like exactly may still be unclear to many of us but what we do know is that in order to diversify, we need innovators. We need thinkers and doers to get us through this time.
What this government seems to have missed with this announcement is how universities create a critical breeding ground for this much needed innovation.
I think we already recognize that vocational colleges do a wonderful job of training the trades, and our universities excel at educating professionals (medicine, engineering, law, etc.). But we also need to acknowledge that universities train people to think out of silos, become carers in our society, fuel curiosity and do ground-breaking research; this is how we create innovators. These are students who may well start with a degree in geography, math, nursing or history – and end up contributing to the world in ways we all benefit. They may be the very people who end up creating the app, Netflix series or pharmaceutical drug of your future life.
Alberta deserves a government with the wisdom to value education from pre-school through to our universities.
Please, Mr. Kenney, do something honest and positive. This latest exercise is likely a poor excuse to cut university funding by attempting to demonstrate that universities do a poor job. This is quite untrue.