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New campaign launches opposing cuts to post-secondary education

New campaign by Public Interest Alberta will mobilize public support for more investment in post-secondary education.

New poll shows Albertans oppose cuts to post-secondary education

Public Interest Alberta partnered with post-secondary institutions to launch new campaign against funding cuts. (CBC )

In the wake of provincial cost-cutting measures, post-secondary institutions in Alberta are bracing for more cuts ahead of the new budget next month.

In response, Public Interest Alberta announced a new campaign Friday afternoon aimed at putting more money back into Alberta's post-secondary institutions.

Called “Post-Secondary Education is the Answer,” the new campaign is a partnership with a large network of students, faculty and staff at Alberta’s colleges and universities.

Premier Jim Prentice has hinted his government may consider eliminating tuition caps, which limit increases to the rate of inflation. 

Bill Moore-Kilgannon, the executive director of Public Interest Alberta, says he's hopeful the public campaign against proposed cuts will change the government's position.

“The government seems to be floating a lot of ideas these days and then backtracking very quickly on that and I think this is yet another dumb idea for the government to backtrack on,” he said.

“If his mind is made up without so-called listening to Albertans as they like to say then that's a serious problem for him in the lead-up to the election.”

According to Moore-Kilgannon, elminating the cap could make higher education too expensive for some, and lead to a lack of diversification within the province's economy.

The new campaign will see province-wide support for post secondary funding. (CBC)
We're gonna have new technologies and new people trained in those areas. If we don't invest in post secondary education we're never gonna be able to shift to a more knowledge-based economy,” he said.

“It's really going to be fool-hardy to cut post-secondary at time when more and more students actually want to get in PSE and our economy needs it.”

The group says there is already strong public opposition to the idea of post-secondary funding cuts across the political spectrum.

According to Environics Research Group, a poll conducted this month shows 67 per cent of Albertans want greater investment in post-secondary education regardless of the province’s current budget challenges, and only 30 per cent would support cuts.

“Clearly, Albertans understand that investing in post-secondary education helps build stronger, safer, more vibrant communities and a more diversified and stronger economy,” said Moore-Kilgannon.

“Given the poll shows strong support for [post-secondary education] in all political parties, it is clear that Jim Prentice is not hearing the message that further deep cuts to PSE institutions are the wrong path to take.”

The campaign plans to enlist high-profile public figures from across the political spectrum to speak out in order to show the province would be better off with more investment in post-secondary education.

Public Interest Alberta plans to hold further public meetings about the issue across the province in the coming weeks.

In addition to examining the importance of investment in post-secondary education, the meetings will also provide Albertans with tools they can use to express their support for increased funding.

Meetings will be held at 11:15 a.m. at the following locations:

  • March 4: Calgary - University of Calgary, Blue Room, Dining Centre
  • March 5: Lethbridge - University of Lethbridge, Markim Hall
  • March 6: Medicine Hat - Medicine Hat College, Crowfoot Room
  • March 9: Red Deer - Red Deer College, Room 2901A

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