Shadow minister response to strategy on higher education release
Alberta Party Shadow Minister for Advanced Education Myles Chykerda issued the following statement on the Alberta 2030 strategy to transform higher education, released April 29, 2021:
“The UCP’s strategies for Alberta’s post-secondary system continue to rely on the spurious conclusions of the MacKinnon Report. That document, based itself on select data, only described some elements of Alberta post-secondary education. There was no attempt to discover the reasons behind why our system is the way it is.
Despite these shortcomings, I’m pleased to see elements of the Alberta Party platform make their way into the Alberta 2030 strategy for higher education. Our member-passed policies specifically target predictable operations funding, caps on tuition increases, and the need for funding mental health supports. The UCP has been silent on all these areas until now.
I am further encouraged that centres of excellence will be developed. I hope this elevates some true gems we have here in our Albertan institutions. It is Albertan research and ingenuity that unlocked the oil sands and is now helping create a vaccine for hepatitis C. We must strive to continue being world leaders in innovation.
However, large elements of the UCP plan put Alberta research at risk. It has a singular focus on workplace-integrated learning: it is based on the idea that all students should be routed towards a specific job or career. This limits academic inquiry and fails to recognize the diverse skill sets, critical thinking, and leadership skills that are delivered by robust and well-rounded programs.
The UCP government has made it clear that they value only a segment of Alberta's students. Instead of equipping Albertans to succeed in whatever path they take, the efforts of this government will only support students in fields that it views as desirable.
Post-secondary education cannot be a zero-sum game. Trades and more research-orientated programs are equally important. They work hand-in-hand to grow our economy and uplift our people.
It is also clear that massive cuts will continue. Building towards sustainability and enabling institutions to increase and diversify revenue streams is worthwhile. However, these strategies should be used to improve educational offerings, not as an excuse to reduce public investment.
Finally, it is surprising that a government is adding various levels of bureaucratic control. This goes against UCP promises to reduce red tape. It will further reduce the resources available for education delivery to students.
The Alberta Party wishes to work with our post-secondary institutions to build a sustainable and workable strategy that understands and nurtures Alberta’s educational ecosystem. We will do so in a transparent manner that is truly evidence-based and does not cherry pick data or stakeholder responses.”