EDMONTON - The provincial government has released the Alberta 2030: Skills for Jobs report as the UCP roadmap for the post-secondary education sector for the next 10 years. This report purports to be a transformative document, but is light on the details of how exactly these fundamental changes will be achieved. Furthermore, the plan further entrenches corporate and private sector funding as a fundamental part of our universities' and colleges; operational funding. The report was also released in the context of a total of nearly $609 million in public funding cuts to post-secondary education over the last three budget cycles.
“The Kenney government continues to mercilessly hack the operational funding of the post-secondary education sector,” said Brad Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Our colleges and universities are continually being asked to do more with less. The cuts have meant massive job losses for support staff, continued precarity for teaching faculty, astronomical increases in tuition for students, and increased corporate control over what is taught and researched at our institutions. This will cause generational damage to the state of post-secondary education in Alberta which won’t easily be remedied.``
“The UCP strategy explicitly seeks to make post-secondary institutions “more responsive” to job market needs and to provide industry and corporations greater influence over courses and programs of study. This is a dangerous affront not only to the academic freedom and independence of these institutions, but also to their ability to properly fulfil their mandates in the public interest,” said Ricardo Acuña, President of the Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA).
“The UCP government fundamentally misunderstands the value of post-secondary education to Albertan culture and society,” said Lafortune. “It’s about more than a jobs-training program; it’s about creating a democratic and flourishing society with critical thinkers, artists, and skilled workers. It’s about creating rich local cultures and diversifying the economy. We can’t cut our way to prosperity and culture.”
Public Interest Alberta, in collaboration with post-secondary workers and advocates, works to advance the priorities for increasing the accessibility, affordability, and quality of Alberta’s universities and colleges. A critical component of achieving these goals is long-term, sustainable, and robust public investment.
Public Interest Alberta is a member of the Stop PSE Cuts coalition. Today, we are launching a social media day of action to demand a stop to post-secondary education cuts.