EDMONTON—“It is time for action; it is time to deliver on the promises and solutions we heard here today at the Minister’s Forum on Post-Secondary Education,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta (PIA).
PIA is recommending six initial changes that will make a real difference to our post-secondary education system:•We expect that tuition will be reduced to the lowest level in Canada as promised by Premier Klein.
- Students must have much greater access to bursaries and grants and the student loan system needs to be revamped to address the needs of students and reverse the trend of growing student debt.
- The government must ensure that there is a place for every qualified student. The province needs to make a real commitment to expanding the number of post-secondary education places well beyond the additional 5,000 students per year.
- Immediate action needs to be taken on the many solutions heard here today to eliminate the barriers that aboriginal, rural, immigrant, disabled and adult learners face in accessing post-secondary education.
- To achieve the government’s goal of “attracting and keeping the best faculty, staff and students”, the government must commit to exceeding the national average for staff salaries and to providing the necessary facilities and support for research.
- We must recognize that the post-secondary education system has not recovered from the chronic under-funding of existing programs. To provide ongoing sustainable funding, the government should commit to returning to a funding level of at least 1.6% of GDP as we had in 1992.
Moore-Kilgannon says, “The Minister’s statement at the closing media conference that ‘students should prepare for an increase in tuition fees in 2006’ is an example of exactly the wrong direction we should be headed and raises questions about the government’s commitment to live up to what we heard at the Minister’s forum.”
“Alberta must dramatically increase our investments in post-secondary education – it is one of the wisest investments we will make,” concludes Moore-Kilgannon. Public Interest Alberta is a provincial non-partisan organization that advocates for better public services, institutions and democracy. On October 31st, PIA released The Report Card on Post-Secondary Education.