University Students Concerned over Blue Ribbon Report

For immediate release

September 5, 2019

Edmonton - The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) is concerned with the Mackinnon Blue Ribbon Panel Report’s recommendations for post-secondary education. Recommendations to review financial stability of institutions, diversify revenue sources, and determine system goals will not make post-secondary education more affordable or accessible for Albertans and their families. The main source of post-secondary funding outside of government contributions is, and will continue to be, students and their families. Student debt is family debt. 

Over the past decade, the Government of Alberta has worked in close consultation with stakeholders to ensure programs and classes are available where Albertans want to study: close to home and close to family. This model supports Albertans investing in their own communities and avoids unnecessary relocating to a major centre. Provincially funded operating grants for post-secondary institutions have increased by $113 or 0.07% per Full Load Equivalent (FLE) since 2008, after adjusting for inflation. While students understand that there is a cost to education, they also recognize that they are not the only benefactors of their education. Students strengthen their communities with their knowledge and advance Alberta’s economy.

CAUS continues to call on the Government of Alberta to invest in our post-secondary education system and to recognize that innovation from post-secondaries drives Alberta’s economy. Organizations like the Conference Board of Canada report that apprentice training leads to an 8% annual return compared to a high school diploma, while an undergraduate degree generates a 36% to 46% return in comparison. Colleges, technical institutes, and universities continue to establish the foundation for entrepreneurial, forward-thinking Albertans - regardless of age or circumstance. 

“The Government of Alberta must ensure that our post-secondary education system remains accessible and affordable for all Albertans,” stated Sadiya Nazir, Chair of CAUS. “Students and their families already face multiple financial barriers to obtaining a post-secondary education. We look forward to working with the government to ensure our universities provide Albertans with the quality system they deserve.”