The Alberta government is giving the province’s colleges and universities an additional $50 million in funding.

The surprise announcement comes after the government cut $147 million or seven per cent from their operating grants earlier this year.

The University of Alberta is getting an additional $14.4 million; the University of Calgary, another $10.6 million.

According to a government news release, the money is being provided to “help institutions adjust to current enrolment pressures and prepare for even greater enrolments next year.”

Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says the money was approved because the province's finances have improved.

“It'll allow them to bring in new students in January if they choose to do so or it'll finance over-enrolment that they may have incurred during this particular semester," he said.

"It sets a new base for their funding so next year's budget will be calculated off of this base.”

But opposition parties say the money is being spent to help Premier Alison Redford in her leadership review later this month. 

"This is not good management, this is utter chaos," said Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.

"I think what we're seeing is we've got an advanced education minister and a government that made major mistakes, they're facing major pushback and a premier who's facing a leadership review in a couple of weeks."She's doing everything she possibly can to scramble to get a couple of wins before her members render a vote on her leadership."

Lukaszuk denied the new funding had anything to do with the leadership review. 

A partial list of additional funding:

  • University of Calgary - $10.6 million
  • Mount Royal University - $2.1 million
  • University of Alberta - $14.4 million
  • MacEwan University - $2.6 million
  • University of Lethbridge - $2.4 million
  • Athabasca Univeristy $970,718
  • NAIT - $3.7 million
  • SAIT - $3.4 million