A decision to suspend the engineering transfer program at Mount Royal University is being criticized.

The unique set of courses gave students a non-traditional path into engineering, letting them catch up on their grades before transferring to programs at other universities.

"We served students who needed to start part-time rather than full-time or whose marks were not quite high enough to get into the big schools but would still have a very good chance of becoming great engineers," said instructor Janice Miller-Young in a letter to CBC News.

Late last week, faculty members were told — because of provincial budget cuts — MRU was phasing out the popular program.

At least four jobs will likely be lost over the next two years, said Gerry Cross, MRU's faculty association president.

"I'm feeling very badly, because we are losing programs that Albertans need and that Albertans can afford. It just doesn't make any sense," he said.

Miller-Young said the program has been a popular success, with over 500 students vying for one of 100 spots that would have been available next fall.

MRU worked closely with the engineering faculties at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta to ensure students had a smooth transition, Miller-Young said.

And the program cost less per student than training engineers exclusively at the bigger schools, she added.

"Ironically, the government wants universities to be more coordinated and less redundant, and to focus on programs that will build the economy. Mount Royal's engineering program was/did all of these things — perhaps more than any other program at Mount Royal," she said.