Alberta students, administrators, satiated by budget 2017 but hungry for more
Lack of tuition freeze "backfill" brings appetite for tuition review results to an all time high among Calgary post-secondary administrators
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Alberta budget confirms while students enjoy their third tuition freeze, post-secondary institutions won’t see support in the form of a “backfill.”
There’s nothing new, or unusual in the budget according to stakeholders.
But students and administrators aren’t up in arms about the continued freeze yet, as they’re hoping the tuition review will have answers and bring better funding models for post-secondary for years to come.
“We’re seeing a continuation of a lot of the funding and programs we very much value, which is great,” said Dexter Bruneau, chair of The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS).
He said from how the consultations are going, it’s clear the government is committed to taking the tuition freeze off gently, and won’t be leaving students with a drastic swing in costs as schools try to regain any revenue shifts.
“The government is very much committed to not having that kind of massive increase after the freeze,” Bruneau said.
What was a welcome surprise, according to Mount Royal University Chief Financial Officer Duane Anderson, was the 2 per cent increase in post-secondary institution’s base operating grants.
“It’s nice to have that increase,” Anderson said. “We’re still net ahead but not as far ahead as we could have been if we received the backfill funding.”
University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon said the government continues to fulfill their promise of predictable and stable funding with this budget.
She said at the U of C they assumed backfill wasn’t coming, and built that into their budgetary deliberations, meaning she’s confident there won’t be cuts based on the cash flow.
“The consultation process that’s ongoing right now, where all stakeholders are at the table talking about a policy that will really serve us well as a province for the long term is needed, and will be welcome,” Cannon said.
For Calgary, the budget brings some much-needed infrastructure cash, money from $270 million in funding to continue work on the MacKimmie Complex at the U of C.
Though there’s no new building cash for MRU, $676 million contributions the Capital Plan for capital maintenance and renewal is a welcome addition.