January 17th, 2021

Alberta needs thinkers and doers

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.

Rita Spencer


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Simple Rita! Kenny is saying put-out or get-out (of the public feeding trough) Rock-on Jason!


I think what Rita is saying should appeal to you.. Laissez-faire for the learner. Keep the hamfisted politicians out of it. Let the youth be curious, learn and innovate.

Southern Albertan

Agreed, Rita Spencer, that the bottom line re: the Kenney UCP, is to cut funding to universities and colleges.
Smart countries/jurisidictions do not, scrimp, on education because they know, it generates what it takes for their country/jurisdiction to be at the ‘top of the heap’ in every field and thereby, good for their economies…..economics, finance, medicine, the sciences, the trades….everything. It is an investment, not unwise spending.
An example, of a young woman from an acquaintance family of ours did, in Alberta, a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in English. Some would say this would be a ‘nothing’ degree. She started out by being a speech writer for an Alberta MLA. She is now a consultant for a major communications firm. What these so-called ‘nothing’ degrees generate, in particular, are those, first of all, who have been blessed with the ability to do a very difficult degree such as this but more importantly, hones critical thinking skills, as do nursing degrees these days. This is what we want, not only direct skills, but skills that hone and develop direct skills and know where to look for answers and actually develop answers.
For myself, both of my children have Alberta university degrees, one at a PhD level, and the other, with a technical undergraduate degree, both gainfully employed. Both undergraduate degrees and the Master’s degree were done in Alberta. The PhD was done in Quebec..imagine that! We, all, are part of many, direct examples of how the post secondary education realm in Alberta performs in a fantastic manner! That this sort of performance is seemingly, not recognized by the Kenney UCP, again, boils down to more cutbacks to, and the erosion of, post secondary Alberta institutions.
And, if we would wish to see how other countries throw money (since money talks) at education, just take a look at how The Netherlands does it. They assess every Grade 6 child for their skills and interests and ‘funnel’ them to where their skills and interests lie, i.e.technical goes to a technical school, agriculture goes to agriculture schools, academics go to academic schools, horticulture, engineering….all separate post secondary schools after Grade 6 for this. If we wish to do it this way, it would take more money yet by governments. And you should see how post-secondary Dutch students are funded, and not, overburdened with student loans!
Now that Alberta will not have any more oil and gas booms, it is vital that we, do not, cut funding, to our post secondary institutions. Post secondary education in Alberta is vital to diversifying our economy away from being too dependent on fossil fuels. It almost seems that the Kenney UCP are hell bent to destroy Alberta and may even generate pushing Alberta into recession with their austerity program….which they would in classic lame style, blame on the AB NDP and Justin Trudeau.
After all, we are still trying to claw back from the Klein era cutbacks to health care, education and infrastructure, etc., and now, we are being kicked in the slats again.


Its been awhile(3-4 years) that CBC aired a report on universities. One point that I remember was Ontario was graduating 10,000 teachers a year but with retirements and enrollment growth only 4,000 new teachers were needed. At that time only Saskatchewan had a mandatory one hour career counselling session for each university student. Ya, perhaps each year one or two will transition into an innovator of tomorrow but so many will be working at Tims and complaining how unfair the world is. Your correct in your assessment about oil and gas and overall Alberta and Canada, being a major resource country, is now a have not country and in my humble opinion there is no political party anywhere in this country that quickly or slowly will fix our problem . Each party has a platform that is a disaster today or will be a disaster in the future. and also in my humble opinion I truly believe that the UoL is truly overstaffed and overpaid in the administrative areas, areas that do not contribute to the success of the students


Just asking how many universities in the USA are funded by Governments.


indeed, meispl – well noted.
so.ab, it is unfortunate our system does not really honour those interested, or gifted, in the trades and arts, just the regurgitators of the mass information shoved at them ad nauseum. this is why students spend the vast majority of all school time in core subject work, and why it is that those that do not regurgitate well enough get shuffled to knowledge and employability (K&E) programming, that, sadly ironic, provides little of either outcome. trades and arts related programming should be available a-plenty in schools, as should more real life skills learning such as balancing one’s income, filling out income tax forms, basic rules of respect, care and compassion for one another and all sentient creatures. but, hey, could you imagine how backward we would be if we didn’t learn how to memorise the likes of irony, foreshadowing, how to factor binomials and polynomials, ancient japan…i suppose there just is no room for less essential learning.