CAFA

Confederation of Alberta Faculty Associations
11043-90th Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E1 780 (492-5630)
CAUS – Council of Alberta University Students

#2, 9908-109 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T5K 1H5 780-297-4531

 

    April  22,  2013  

  An  Open  Letter  to  the  Premier  

        Dear  Premier  Redford,       The  Confederation  of  Alberta  Faculty  Associations  (CAFA)  is  the  provincial  organization  that   speaks  for  the  academic  staff  associations  at  Alberta’s  four  research-­‐intensive  universities   (CARIs).    The  Council  of  Alberta  University  Students  (CAUS)  is  the  provincial  voice  of  the   students'  unions  at  the  University  of  Alberta,  the  University  of  Calgary,  and  the  University  of   Lethbridge.       We  are  writing  to  you,  jointly,  on  behalf  of  our  members,  to  register  our  disappointment  and   grave  concern  at  the  deep  cut  in  funding  for  post-­‐secondary  education  announced  in  the  March  7   provincial  budget.    Your  government’s  commitment  last  year  was  to  three  years  of  stable  and   predictable  funding  to  the  public  post-­‐secondary  institutions,  with  annual  2%  increases  to   operating  grants  over  that  period.    Instead,  the  unexpected  cut  of  $146  million  in  operating   support  has  these  institutions  scrambling  to  plug  major  budget  gaps  through  job  and  program   cuts  that  will  reduce  the  accessibility,  diversity,  and  quality  of  the  learning  opportunities  our   post-­‐secondary  system  can  provide  to  Albertans.     Over  the  long-­‐term,  this  reduction  in  funding  will  be  felt  throughout  our  communities  as  our   institutions  are  forced  to  downsize,  with  the  risk  of  additional  financial  pressure  on  students  and   their  families  through  increased  tuition  and  fees.    This  will  make  our  universities  less   competitive,  less  affordable,  and  less  attractive  to  students  and  faculty.    The  inevitable  loss  of   capacity  throughout  the  system  will  have  immediate,  and  lasting,  effects  on  the  ability  of  learners   to  access  the  programs  they  require.         Alberta’s  universities,  colleges,  and  technical  institutes  have  been  particularly  effective  in  finding   efficiencies  and  innovative  responses  to  the  freeze  on  operating  grants  over  the  past  two  years.     However,  the  time  has  come  to  re-­‐invest  in  the  post-­‐secondary  education  system,  not  to  cut   deeper.    No  one  doubts  the  value  of  public  investment  in  post-­‐secondary  education,  or  the   unmatched  return  on  investment  it  provides  –  to  our  society  and  economy,  as  well  as  to  the   individual  learner.    Recent  public  opinion  surveys,  like  the  one  Alberta  faculty  and  student   groups  sponsored  during  the  last  election  campaign,  indicate  that  a  strong  majority  of  Albertans   see  post-­‐secondary  education  as  a  priority,  and  want  the  provincial  government  invest  in  it.           …/2  

       

    Faculty  and  students  understand  the  need  to  address  the  sustainability  of  the  post-­‐secondary   system,  but  we  believe  that  the  combination  of  a  sudden,  massive  cut  in  public  funding,  and  the   related  plan  to  re-­‐structure  Campus  Alberta  to  ‘better  align’  it  with  provincial  priorities,  risks   undermining  the  accessibility,  affordability,  and  quality  of  our  system.    A  hasty,  ill-­‐considered   downsizing  of  our  post-­‐secondary  institutions  at  this  time  is  in  no  one’s  interest,  least  of  all  the   students’,  and  will  do  long-­‐term  damage  to  our  system  -­‐  as  the  lasting  impact  of  the  drastic  cuts   to  our  sector  in  the  mid-­‐90s  has  shown.       Alberta  has  an  excellent  post-­‐secondary  education  system  today,  as  a  result  of  sustained   investment  and  a  shared  vision  of  the  province’s  potential.    We  urge  you  to  reconsider  the  deep   funding  cuts  in  the  2013-­‐14  budget  that  threaten  the  integrity  of  our  system  and  call  that  vision   into  question.     Yours  sincerely,                                                                                                                                        

-­‐  2  -­‐    

                                                                                                                                                    Robert  Sutherland                                        Raphael  Jacob   President  of  CAFA             President  of  CAUS     cc.    The  Honourable  Thomas  Lukaszuk