From the Acting President – Provincial Budget
Yesterday, the Government of Alberta released its 2019 budget, which included a 12.5 per cent decrease in operating funding over four years for the post-secondary sector. The government has stated this is to reduce funding in the sector to be closer to that of other jurisdictions, as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Panel.
The government has taken a differential approach to grant reductions for the sector. MacEwan’s cut is the highest and is retroactive to April 1, 2019.
As communicated to us yesterday by the Ministry, there will be a 7.9 per cent reduction to our Campus Alberta grant this fiscal year as well as a one-year elimination of Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP) funding.
This is one of the largest in-year cuts the university has ever received and will require us to reduce the budget immediately. This is an unprecedented challenge for the university, and there will be an impact on staffing levels. While we have not been given impacts for future years, there is an indication we will know this by January 2020. At that time, we can also expect more changes for the sector as a new funding model will be released.
We are already in discussions with ministry officials to determine specific details around the planned reductions and future enrolment targets. Only when we have this information will we have the full implication of yesterday’s announcements. We anticipate more information from the government within the next week when we receive our grant letter.
The government is also changing legislation to lift the tuition freeze and allow for increases above the current CPI (Consumer Price Index) limit. We need to determine tuition for 2020/21 and will work with the Students’ Association to discuss approaches to setting tuition levels.
The reduction in our grant presents a significant challenge for the university, and there will be implications for all of us. We do not know yet what these will be, but over the next few weeks we will work to arrive at solutions to address the reduction and to plan for the future that will see even more changes.
I will be working closely with the Provost and the rest of the senior leadership team to determine how to move forward. Throughout this process, our first priority will be our students and the quality of the teaching they receive.
Wherever possible, we will look for opportunities to engage the university community and we are committed to transparency and timely communications as this process unfolds.
MacEwan has always been a strong steward of the public resources with which we have been entrusted, and we have invested in our classrooms and learners. As such, we recognize the government’s commitment to reduce spending and to balance the provincial budget and understand the post-secondary system must do its part to accomplish this. Along with the entire sector, we are being asked to transform, to be part of an overall change to the post-secondary system. We are being asked to be more efficient, find other sources of revenue, and reduce administrative costs across the institution. To transform, we must make careful, deliberative decisions. We must take the time to get this right. These changes will be key in ensuring MacEwan’s long-term fiscal health.
On behalf of the senior leadership team, thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we move forward to address this challenge. We will be providing regular updates on our progress and the Provost and I will be holding an information session for the university community during upcoming week.
We understand that this process will be difficult for everyone who works at MacEwan. Know that we value your contributions to the university and that we will approach these challenges with empathy and respect.