News / Calgary

Impact of Alberta post-secondary cuts felt across the province

In all likelihood, 19-year-old Connor Chisholm will be a member of the Mount Royal University jazz program's final graduating class.

The diploma offering, which proponents suggest is the best of its kind in Canada, was among a slate of programs suspended at the school last April in response to provincial funding reductions of up to 10 per cent. The province had initially pledged two-per-cent increases.

Mount Royal will also make due with dozens fewer faculty and staff when classes resume next week, including some that would have taught in Chisholm's area. He will still be given the opportunity to complete his second and final year of study, but worries about longer-term repercussions.

"It sucks . . . the jazz band scene, the music scene in general, is just something I love," he said. "I feel that once the people no longer have that (program's) support, we may never have it again. I know graduates even after their second year that still come back and jam with the students.

"It's a community."

The cuts to Alberta's post-secondary sector first made waves at Mount Royal, but quickly rippled out to other schools combating multi-million-dollar shortfalls.

In recent weeks, Metro reviewed financial plans and consulted with representatives from the province's 20 major universities, colleges and polytechnics to provide a comprehensive overview of the total impact to the system to date.

Some of the cuts were directly related to the budget while officials have said others would have occurred regardless as part of prudent management practices and unrelated funding lapses.

All told, schools plan to suspend or completely eliminate 45 programs, close whole satellite campuses and community learning facilities as well as trim faculty and staffing complements by more than 500 positions.

Student enrolment poses a different dilemma as half of the schools analyzed will attempt to do more with less, bumping up enrolment by anywhere from a marginal level to more than 10 per cent. A couple of institutions will basically hold the line on students while six others will combine to reduce the number of learners on their campuses by more than 1,200.

When asked why be believes the cuts varied so heavily from school to school, Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk said this year's budget could serve as a "teachable moment" for the sector.

"When one member — one organ in the body — is ill, that affects the entire organism," he said. "I want to make sure that all of our schools are academically excellent and fiscally sound. So, if I have schools indicating they're simply not in a position to deal with this budget — they sort of throw up their hands —then it's important for all of us to come to assistance and say 'Let's share best practices, let's bring in a third set of eyes, let's look at how we get you out of this.'"

But some institutions, including two of the hardest hit in Mount Royal and the University of Alberta, have contended they were already behind the 8-ball after previous provincial funding promises never materialized.

Even those schools that appear to have pulled through relatively unscathed in the short-term admit they have a lot of work to do to close funding gaps in the months ahead.

"We cannot rule out job losses in the future years in particular," said Anna Kae Todd, vice-president of learning at Calgary's Bow Valley College, which is keeping its program list, staffing level and student enrolment intact for the 2013-14 school year, despite a $2.8-million reduction in provincial support.

"When we do have to make difficult decisions — if we do have to cut programs or other services — it will be felt throughout the community and it won't be taken lightly," Kae Todd said. "I know that we'll do everything we can to minimize the effects of that, but we'll have to do what we'll have to do."


- Compiled by Jeremy Nolais

Alberta College of Art and Design

- No programs, but 13 classes lost

- No change in staff

- Student enrolment expected to rise slightly

Athabasca University

- No change to programs

- 44 staff laid off/35 bought out

- Enrolment increase, 6%

Bow Valley College

- No change

- No change

- No change

Grande Prairie Regional College

- 4 programs suspended

- 45 staff positions lost

- Enrolment expected to increase 4%

MacEwan University 

- No change

- No change

- No change

Keyano College

- No change

- No change

- Enrolment expected to rise slightly

Lakeland College

- 5 programs suspended

- 40 positions lost over 2 years

- Cut of 227 students

Lethbridge College

- 3 suspended programs

- 12 full time staff lost

- Enrolment expected to increase 4%

Medicine Hat College

- 1 suspended in 2014

- 1 position lost

- 16 student nursing positions lost

Mount Royal University

- 8 suspended, enrolment reduced in 3

- 63 FTE positions lost

- Enrolment expected to increase slightly

NorQuest College

- No change to programs

- 50 positions lost, 10 early retirees

- Small reduction in students

Northern Lake College

- 5 community facilities shut

- No staff changes

- 113 student positions lost


- No programming change

- 90 staff positions lost

- Enrolment increase of 6%

Olds College

- Deferred student intake

- Up to 5 positions losts

- Enrolment increase of 10%

Portage College

- Loss of Vegreville campus

- 15 full time positions lost

- 18 student positions lost

Red Deer College

- 2 suspended programs

- 32 positions lost

- Enrolment numbers unavailable


- No change

- No change

- Enrolment increase 3%

University of Alberta

- Suspending 20 low enrolment courses

- No firm numbers on layoffs, voluntary buyouts sought

- 600 students lost in Science faculty

University of Calgary

- 19 low enrolment programs cut

- 50 positions lost

- 245 student positions lost in arts, medicine, nursing

University of Lethbridge

- 2 suspended programs

- 34 positions vacated, union could work fewer days

- Enrolment to increase 11%


Grande Prairie Regional College

  •  Active Aging Fitness Practitioner program
  • Outdoor Power Equipment Technician program
  • General Mechanics program
  • Heavy Equipment certificate program

Lakeland College

  • American sign language and deaf culture studies (part-time certificate), and sign language interpretation (16-month diploma)
  • Academic upgrading, event management (one-year certificate) and practical nurse (two-year diploma)
  • Office administration and transitional vocational. Both are one-year certificate programs
  • Bachelor of applied business: emergency services degree
  • Paramedic (two-year diploma)

Olds College

  • Office administration program

Lethbridge College

  • Office administration diploma
  • Fashion design and marketing diploma

Mount Royal University

  • Bachelor of Engineering - university transfer
  • Theatre Arts diploma - performance and technical streams
  • Diploma in music performance - classical and jazz streams
  • Diploma in disability studies
  • Certificate in forensics
  • Certificate in journalism
  • Advanced studies in perinatal and neonatal nursing certificate

Red Deer College

  • Virtual Assistant Distance Certificate
  • Early Learning and Child Care Diploma will be suspended September 2014

University of Calgary

  • Bachelor of Arts - Classical and Early Christian Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts - Leisure, Tourism and Society
  • Bachelor of Arts - Transportation Studies
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts - Developmental Art
  • Bachelor of Music - Music History and Literature
  • Bachelor of Music - Theory
  • Bachelor of Science -Transportation Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts -Actuarial Science
  • Bachelor of Arts - Applied Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Arts - Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts - Pure Mathematics
  • Bachelor of Arts - Statistics
  • Bachelor of Kinesiology - Outdoor Pursuits
  • Bachelor of Science - Applied Physics
  • Bachelor of Music - Music History and Theory
  • Bachelor of Music - Elementary Music Education
  • Bachelor of Arts - Economics & Society
  • Bachelor of Science - Chemical Physics
  • Bachelor of Arts - History and Philosophy of Science

University of Lethbridge

  • Bachelor of Management - Major in information system
  • Bachelor of Arts - Major in German
  • Bachelor of Arts and Science - Major in German

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