Protect education budget, students urge Hancock
New minister of advanced education focuses on 'effective use' of resources
Post-secondary students are urging Dave Hancock, Alberta's new minister of advanced education, to protect post-secondary funding in the next provincial budget.
Hancock, who met for the first time with student representatives on Saturday, took over the post from Thomas Lukaszuk in December's cabinet shuffle. Lukaszuk held the position during a time of controversial post-secondary cuts in the so-called "bitumen bubble" budget of 2013.
After Saturday's meeting Hancock said money isn't the only issue he must address in his new portfolio.
"We should not be looking always at the budget for the indication for change or indication of advancement money," the minister said. "It is important — how you allocate money is important — but really, fundamentally, we have to know how we make effective use of our resources."
Hancock said that while students do need to pay for their educations, ensuring every Albertan can advance their education is good for all of society.
Adam Woods, a student union representative at the University of Alberta, said even a bit of extra help from the provincial government would be welcome.
"Right now about 75 per cent of the U of A's operating budget is tied up in salaries," Woods said, "so if they're cutting anything it's our quality. So just a little increase from the government would really help us to ensure that the quality is not as hurt as it could be."
Last April, Premier Alison Redford announced tuition fees at all post-secondary schools in Alberta would be frozen for the 2013-14 academic year. However, the province cut almost $150 million in post-secondary grants last year.