October 20th, 2020

Local reaction to new funding formula


By Kuhl, Nick on January 21, 2020.

Nick Kuhl

Lethbridge Herald

nkuhl@lethbridgeherald.com

Officials at both of Lethbridge’s post-secondary institutions responded Monday to the Government of Alberta’s announcement and introduction of a new outcomes-based funding approach.

“As a student-centred institution, the University of Lethbridge places great value on ensuring our alumni are fully prepared for the transition to their careers upon graduation,” said Mike Mahon, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Lethbridge, in an email to The Herald.

“Through liberal education academic experiences, work-integrated learning opportunities and an increasing emphasis on internationalization, our alumni are well positioned for success. Further, our ever-growing research culture continues to enhance the economic health of southern Alberta and beyond. The U of L will work with students, faculty, staff, external stakeholders and the provincial government to establish performance metrics that improve system efficiency while continuing to ready students and communities for the future.”

Lethbridge College president Paula Burns was away Monday and unavailable for a direct comment. But she is part of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta (COPPOA) and has worked with that group to draft a unified message on behalf of all 26 of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.

“For some time, the members of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta (COPPOA), have been raising the need for changes to the funding model. We welcome the opportunity to work with the Government of Alberta, as well as with students, faculty and staff associations and other stakeholders, to develop measureable performance criteria. These measures must be linked to the core mission of institutions, connected to an overall vision for the post-secondary system, and recognize the important role that this sector plays within the communities we serve,” the COPPOA statement reads.”

“Alberta’s universities, colleges and polytechnics educate and train the innovators and leaders who will ensure the continued success of the province’s key sectors and establish the industries of the future. Maintaining the quality of this sector is critical. The funding model that is developed must build on well-established system strengths and not generate unhealthy competition among Alberta post-secondary institutions. Throughout its history, Alberta has supported the development of one of the strongest and best-differentiated post-secondary systems in the country. Albertans deserve a funding model that protects this investment,” it continues.

“Planning must also take into the consideration recent cuts made to post-secondary funding, including the removal of $117 million in 2019, representing a five per cent reduction of the Campus Alberta Grant, and the elimination of capital maintenance funding retroactively. Further reductions to the grant are anticipated to reach 20 per cent over a four-year period and relaxed tuition caps will naturally result in an increase of the percentage of system funding that comes from non-government sources.

“Throughout this uncertain and complex process, COPPOA will honour the academic commitments made to students. We will continue to work together to find ways to reduce administrative spending, to grow enrolment, reduce overall costs on a per-student basis, and grow revenue from a wide variety of sources while keeping a strong commitment to the core mission of each institution. As we work together with the Government of Alberta and our stakeholders, COPPOA will remain steadfastly committed to building and sustaining the best possible post-secondary education system for Alberta.”

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