MacEwan University students rally against provincial funding cuts

About 200 students from MacEwan University and the University of Alberta chanted “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts,” as they descended on the Alberta Legislature grounds Monday afternoon. 

MacEwan was one of the schools hit hardest by the provincial government’s budget last month, which saw a 7.9 per cent decrease to its operational grant. 

Student union president Ryley Osadchuk said the $9.1-million reduction taken by the downtown Edmonton university, retroactive to April 1, 2019, could result in a tuition hike of up to 21 per cent. 

Ryley Osadchuk, president of the MacEwan University students association, met with the minister of advanced education before the rally. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

‘Difficult conversations’

“We’re having a lot of difficult conversations with our administrations. Right now [it] is in their hands to decide if the full 21 per cent over the next three years will be adhered to,” Osadchuk said. “There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment.”

Osadchuk and other students met with Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of advanced education ahead of the rally. 

“It’s a difficult time for so many people in the province of Alberta but these changes are necessary for us to ensure that we have a path forward,” Nicolaides said.

“We’re looking at a new funding formula that will help ensure that our graduates and young Albertans have the skill set that a growing and modern economy has, whether it be creative, critical thinking skills or skills in the trades.”

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said the province is looking at a new funding formula for post-secondary schools. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Post-secondary institutions are expected to submit budget impact plans to the department within the next two weeks. 

During a budget town hall meeting Monday, the University of Calgary said 250 jobs will be lost to provincial funding cuts.

Of those, 100 jobs will be cut through closing vacancies, retirements and resignations, while 150 will be layoffs.

MacEwan University is also eyeing job cuts in the wake of its grant reduction. 

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