News / Calgary

Programs cut, fees rise at Mount Royal University

Students will pay more and have fewer program choices at Mount Royal University this fall, officials announced Tuesday.

A first round of faculty layoffs has begun in programs suspending student admissions. They include all music performance and theatre arts offerings, the disability studies diploma as well certificate-granting programs in journalism, forensic, aging and perinatal studies.

Officials have also approved tacking on $120 per-semester student services fee and will initially raise semester parking pass rates by $20, university academic provost and vice-president Manuel Mertin confirmed.

"Some or all these programs could stay on the books, could stay in the (academic) calendar for awhile . . . if we feel that the climate might change and we might be able to fund them again," he said.

Mount Royal's nursing program will also admit a third fewer students this fall and admission reductions are also being made in the broadcasting diploma program.

Students currently enrolled in all impacted programs will be given an avenue to finish, officials stressed Tuesday.

Gerry Cross, president of the faculty association, said "fairly significant" layoffs are expected as a result of the suspensions, which the university estimates will save $5 million.

"These are all a direct result of savage reductions to funding," Cross said. "The blame should be put on the province."

The Alberta government trimmed post-secondary grants by 7.3 per cent in its budget last month when it had previously promised two per cent increases — that amounted to a $14-million shortfall at Mount Royal.

All program suspensions will go before a committee Thursday for formal approval but officials conceded Tuesday they are offering no alternative options.

As previously announced by a dean last month, the Bachelor of Engineering university transfer program is also suspended; however, that decision was made prior to the provincial funding cut, a university spokesperson said last week.

Jim Brenan, chair of the music and theatre arts programs, got word in a meeting Tuesday that he and five staff members will lose their jobs — three immediately and two after currently enrolled students finish their two-year programs next spring.

Mertin said the measuring stick for determining program suspensions was primarily whether it had university-degree potential; however, Brenan lashed out at officials for not supporting him when he previously pursued those options for his programs.

"What kind of society is this where we willingly cut arts programs first?" Brenan said. "I think this is a lazy decision by our administration."

Mount Royal’s annual summertime Shakespeare in the Park showcase, which is put on by students, will go ahead this summer but then be terminated as well, Brenan said.

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