A coalition of Post-Secondary Education groups from across Alberta, including the Council of Alberta University Students, Alberta College and Technical Institute Student Executive Council, Alberta Graduate Council, Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations, and Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, have launched an advocacy campaign geared at increasing awareness of PSE issues during this election campaign. The Imagine Alberta campaign ad can be seen above.
I'm planning to provide some more detailed analysis on this soon, but for now, here's a quick look at what each of Alberta's main political parties are offering in their plans for Post-Secondary Education:
- Ensure the lowest post secondary tuitions in Canada.Alberta Liberals:
- Ease access to continued learning of all kinds, with a focus on more flexible class times and increasing the number of institutions able to offer degree programs.
- Increase Affordability by giving students a break in their tuition of almost $1,000 a year.Alberta's NDP:
- Create a $300/year books and tools credit for post-secondary students.
- Reduce interest rates on Alberta student loans and increase the part-time earning limits.
- Reducing or eliminating property taxes for on-campus student housing to make
accommodation more affordable and to encourage the construction of more units.
- Recognize regional disparities in allocating student loans.
- Restore legislative control over tuition increases.
- Create targeted additional learning spaces for areas with a high number of applicants.
- Provide three year funding envelopes for post-secondary institutions so they may better plan for the future.
- Establish Mount Royal University in Calgary.
- Establish teaching chairs to support and recognize excellence at post-secondary institutions.
- Improve student-faculty ratios.
- Boost graduate student numbers.
- Create a Post-Secondary Endowment Fund, using a portion of oil and gas royalties (in just 15 years, the endowment could grow to $15 billion and generate $770 million in extra funding every year).
- Create a $500 million Endowment for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, using a portion of oil and gas royalties.
- Reduce tuition fees to 1999-2000 levels, and fully fund a tuition freeze thereafter.Interestingly, the NDP website says that the Alberta Liberals "have no plan to reduce tuition levels," which not only contradicts reality, but also means that the NDP must have missed the giant headline on the front page of last Saturday's Edmonton Journal that read "Taft vows to roll back tuition." But then again, the NDP website also accuses the Liberals and Conservatives of neglecting Post-Secondary Education because they accept corporate donations, which doesn't really even make sense as an argument.
- Reduce the student loan interest rates to prime and find ways to reduce administrative costs on student loan payments.
- Generate additional provincial grant, bursary and scholarship opportunities thereby reducing dependency on student loans.
- Create an endowment for social sciences, arts and humanities research.
- Work to ensure that Cabinet Ministers and MLAs meet with post-secondary institutions, Governors and Student Unions regularly to learn about, and respond to their concerns.
- Increase the availability of post-secondary spaces at existing institutions and support the creation of new facilities, particularly in rural areas where it can be difficult to access post-secondary education.
- Support initiatives to build additional student housing.
- Extend accreditation options to building trade unions to create more apprenticeship spaces.
Alberta Progressive Conservatives:
- Continue to limit annual tuition increases to the rate of inflation.As these three bullet points don't really present much of a plan, I thought it would be fair to give you some more on what the PCs have in mind for PSE. Here is more of Ed Stelmach's vision for Post-Secondary Education in Alberta:
- Lower the student loan interest rate by 2.5% to the prime lending rate.
- Improve affordability of graduate student programs to facilitate research and commercialization and to foster creativity.
Alberta Social Credit Party:
- Supports post-secondary education in Alberta.Wildrose Alliance:
- Ensure that Alberta citizens be given priority for admission over out-of-province students.
- Provide "fixed term tuitions" to freeze the tuition rates for post-secondary education students for the duration of their program.
- Consult with business and the public sector to determine their requirements for professional and skilled workers over the next ten years. Then meet representatives of Alberta's post-secondary institutions and develop a plan to provide the necessary facilities and instructors to educate these workers.
- Institute an educational scholarship form of financing for all Albertans seeking a post-secondary education. Each qualified Alberta student will receive a full scholarship for five years to the post secondary institution of choice within Alberta.
- Give priority for admission and funding to Alberta students to Alberta post-secondary institutions over out of province students seeking admission and funding.
- Utilize the technology available to make higher education more accessible to all Albertans.
- Work with employers, post-secondary institutions and the Alberta Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission to increase training and apprenticeships in the trades and technical sectors.
- Strengthen the network of colleges, institutes and on-line learning opportunities throughout the province.
- Increase research and development funding for colleges, universities and institutes and encourage private sector partnerships.
- Double the annual number of graduates in computer science and electrical and computer engineering within five years.
- Increase investment in technology research and post-secondary skills training.
- Support continuing education for members of the professions in the province.
- Provide forgivable student loans to Alberta students attending accredited schools of education providing they teach for ten years in underserved communities in Alberta.
- Include the total cost of post secondary education when calculating amounts for student loans.