Mount Royal University programs slashed

As Mount Royal University awaits the mandate letter detailing the recent 6.8 per cent cut included in the 2013 Alberta provincial budget, the school has already cut one of its programs.

Funding for the International Educated Nurses, or IEN, Assessment Centres in Calgary and Edmonton will end March 31.

The program trains internationally educated nurses to prepare for meeting provincial credentials. The program has been supported by MRU and Alberta Health Services for the past six years.

Mount Royal University’s president David Docherty said that students will notice a change in the institution in the fall as a result of the cuts. “Anytime you take nine per cent [of funding] away, it will impact the student experience,” said Docherty.

Photo by Samara Hawkins“It plays a vital role in meeting the high demand for nurses in Alberta,” said David Docherty, Mount Royal University president, in an email.

An engineering transfer program offered at MRU has also been cancelled. This program allowed students to take their first and second year courses at MRU and then transfer to another institution to finish their degree. This option will no longer be available as of fall 2013, but students currently enrolled in the program will be able to finish.

Publicly funded education received the heaviest hit with a $147 million cut in base-operating grants. Instead of a two per cent increase that was promised, funding was decreased by nearly seven per cent.

“I think that obviously [we are] disappointed. It’s quite grave, difficult news,” said Docherty in an interview with the Calgary Journal.

As of right now, new and current students have had their fall registration delayed until MRU can navigate the cut in provincial grants properly.

The budget states that students should not have to make up for these decreases through an increase in tuition, but that the schools should instead find ways to restructure internally.

On top of institutional cuts, the Summer Temporary Employment Program has been canceled. The provincial government introduced the $7.4 million program in 1972, which employed 3,000 students through temporary full-time summer employment.

“With the release of Budget 2013, it is clear that my ministry is placing its funding priorities on helping those in greatest need – vulnerable Albertans, including children at risk, adults with disabilities and the homeless,” said Dave Hancock, Alberta finance minister in a written update on Mar. 8.

While post-secondary representatives say their plans for restructuring will take time, they say that no matter what happens, students will be affected.

Impacts on Calgary post-secondary schools

Mount Royal University:

  • The Mount Royal Faculty Association said in a news release, “These cuts will inevitably reduce the quality of our post-secondary education and harm the future of Alberta.”
  • Docherty said government grants made up 42 per cent of the operating budget last year. These grants go towards things like costs in the classroom, employing staff and faculty, and student services such as career services, which help current students and new graduates find jobs in their respective fields.
  • Tuition and other institutional income from things like recreation, parking and the book store make up other revenue brought in to the school. The cut in government grants will affect these areas in an effort to balance the books, said Docherty. See detailed fiscal information.

University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic and St. Mary’s University College were unable to comment on the recent budget cuts during the time of request.

Mount Royal University’s president’s executive committee intends to have a balanced budget to present to Alberta’s Board of Governors on May 27. Upon approval, it will then be presented to David Morhart, the deputy minister of Alberta Enterprise and Advanced Education with the Government of Alberta.

Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary said in a UToday article that the university will be holding town hall meetings for the campus community later this March and that the institution hopes to know more about what the cuts mean for students by the end of the month.

MRU’s Docherty said that students will notice a change in the institution in the fall as a result of the cuts.

He said, “Anytime you take nine per cent [of funding] away, it will impact the student experience.”

aquirico@cjournal.ca
dswan@cjournal.ca

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