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Alberta Proposes Sweeping Higher Education Changes

A five-page letter released this week from the Alberta Ministry of Enterprise and Advanced Education has higher education stakeholders in the province talking.

Thomas Lukaszuk, deputy premier of Alberta and minister of advanced education and enterprise, proposed an overhaul of all 26 post-secondary institutions in the province. In the letter, Lukaszuk said he expects the province to ensure that institutions are providing the programs employers demand most and reducing the number of duplicate programs that are offered at various institutions.

“There are some low enrolment programs that we would be looking at,” Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary told the CBC News. “We do have to be realistic in terms of carrying on programs that aren’t meeting the needs of students and perhaps need to be eliminated.”

While institutions seem to be supportive of the move, others have been vocally critical of the proposed changes.

“It reduces the choices, the options and the flexibilities that we offer students,” Rylan Slipchuck, Bow Valley College student associate president, told CBC News.

Given the recent provincial budget cuts that slashed funding of Alberta’s universities by $147 million, Lukaszuk said the time is now to take a closer look at Alberta’s institutions and how they deliver education.

The minister also warned institutions that changes to the current system and status quo are inevitable, though he added that the end result of the system changes across all higher education institutions may be negotiated.

“This will not be mandated from my office. It will be collaborative,” he told CBC News.