By Eryn Pinksen
The provincial government announced its budget in October and the operating budget for advanced education will be reduced by $200 million.
Institutions have been advised to cut costs to administrations before increasing tuition, but they are required to make cuts for this current fiscal year to meet the reduction.
“What we’re really concerned about is that I know the government highly recommends the institutions rethink their costs and reduce their administrative costs,” said Karen Velasco, NAITSA President. “But without really requiring it, we’re just concerned that the services and supports for students will be impacted.”
The tuition freeze is coming to an end with a cap of seven per cent each year for the next three years at each institution’s discretion.
Students Associations across the province are concerned about the potential 21 per cent forecasted increase.
NAIT will see an $11 million cut to the operating budget of this current fiscal year and reductions to the Campus Alberta Grant, the Apprenticeship Technical Training Grant and a drop of $6 million in this year’s infrastructure maintenance funding.
At this time, NAIT has declined any interviews regarding the budget and has released a statement.
“The decrease in funding puts significant pressure on us. NAIT has a strong record of financial stewardship and remains committed to operating in the most efficient way possible. We’ll continue to work closely with government to ensure we continue to provide the foundation for outstanding careers while meeting the polytechnic needs of the province today and into the future.”
–Statement from NAIT administration.
The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) is eliminated as well and students across the province have been voicing their concerns online about the loss of this program.
A few programs and grants will see an increase in funding. The Women Building Futures program will receive $10 million and $2 million was announced for Skills Canada Alberta, both will be administered over four years.
The student loan interest rate is set at prime (currently 3.95 per cent) and it will be increased to prime plus one. This will not only influence future loans, but those currently in repayment as well.
NAITSA stated they are working with NAIT administration to ensure that administrative cuts are found before increasing tuition or making cuts to student services.
More information is expected in the coming weeks with details on the plans to cut costs.