Calgary

Students at 4 Alberta universities protest tuition increases, budget cuts in 'Day of Action' Friday

Dozens of students gathered in the snow at the University of Calgary quad Friday afternoon to demand that the provincial government reverse budget cuts and reinstate a freeze on tuition hikes.

Students say the cost of education continues to rise, while quality decreases

Protestors hold signs at the University of Calgary quad Friday as part of a "Day of Action" across the province to protest provincial budget cuts and tuition increases. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Dozens of students gathered in the snow at the University of Calgary quad Friday afternoon to demand that the provincial government reverse budget cuts and reinstate a freeze on tuition hikes.

The demonstration was part of a "Student Day of Action" across Alberta, with similar protests held at Mount Royal University, MacEwan University and the University of Alberta.

Tuition hikes and deep budget cuts are hurting the student experience, said Chaise Combs, spokesperson for the Faculty of Arts Students' Association at the U of C. 

"It's made life more difficult. It's made school more expensive. It's made it more difficult to budget," he said.

Combs added that, personally, he's often stressed about the future and how he'll pay off student loans after graduating.

Budget cuts, other students at the protest said, kneecap Alberta's ability for an economic recovery because the future is dependent on highly skilled graduates.

They argued the cost of education continues to rise, while the quality decreases.

Budget cuts spur layoffs, early retirements: faculty member

Students weren't the only people protesting. Luanne Metz, a U of C faculty member running provincially for the NDP in the Calgary-Varsity constituency, attended in empathy of the students.

"The universities have been slashed so desperately that the support staff have been hurt very badly and the students are being hurt very badly," Metz said.

Budget cuts have spurred layoffs and early retirements at many Alberta campuses, she said.

"There are fewer people to support the students, and there is little enthusiasm to encourage academics from other places to come here," said Metz. "People are retiring early because this is just not a happy place to be."

The cuts need to be reversed to improve the quality of post-secondary education in Alberta and invest in the future of the province, she said.

With files from Mike Symington

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