Budget decisions in a new fiscal reality

On October 24, 2019, the Alberta government introduced its budget to the Alberta legislature. As noted in my most recent message to the community, significant reductions were expected to the Campus Alberta Grant received by post-secondary institutions in Alberta. These reductions are differential and unique to each institution and range from 0 to 7.9%.

For the University of Lethbridge, our grant decrease for 2019-2020 will be 3.2%. This translates to a reduction of $3.4 million of revenue in this current fiscal year. In addition, the Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP) grant will be suspended for this year. This grant was expected to be $4.2 million.

The government has made no changes this fiscal year to targeted funding we receive for a number of initiatives. Specifically, this refers to support for student mental health services, supports for students with disabilities, funding for the Health Workforce Action Plan as well as targeted enrolment expansion funding.

As expected, there were significant changes made to tuition. Tuition, which has been frozen since 2014-2015, will increase. Starting next year, post-secondary schools may increase tuition by 7% each year for the next three years.

This budget signals a significant change in how the government intends to fund post-secondary education moving forward. While no details have been released, we will likely learn more about these changes in the coming weeks as it is expected they will be in effect for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

The cut to our Campus Alberta Grant, and the loss of IMP funding represent significant challenges. The expected tuition increases will be difficult for many of our students. We must also anticipate further reductions and changes ahead. While we have been planning for scenarios such as this, we will have to make some difficult decisions in the days ahead. We will be meeting with senior leaders of the University to plan for the necessary reductions.

As I have committed, we will continue to share information as it comes available and, when we have greater clarity, host a gathering to share how we expect this budget will impact the University, and our plans moving forward.

Obviously, this is not an ideal situation and the impact this will have on our community should not be minimized. Tough decisions will have to be made for us to align with our new fiscal reality. We are, however, an exceptional university that has long exceeded the limits and expectations put upon us. I am confident we will meet the challenges ahead and continue to give our students access to the high-quality academic experience for which we are known and will deliver on our mandate for the benefit of the communities we serve.

Mike Mahon, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor


Contact:

Trevor Kenney | trevor.kenney@uleth.ca | 403-329-2710