Budget 2019

Changes to Advanced Education

Budget 2019 introduced many changes to the Advanced Education sector that would impact students. Here is what we know so far:
Item Change Comments
University of Calgary Operating Grant Reduction of $32.9 Million (a 6.9% in year cut) from the Department of Advanced Education. 
More cuts to come from funding received from other government departments
Operating grants make up a portion of funding for post-secondary institutions, with the rest coming from tuition, donations, and other sources. The changes were heavily influenced by the recommendation in the MacKinnon panel report that University should rely less on government funding and find alternative revenue sources.
Tuition Increase The tuition freeze is ending in 2020/21.
The tuition cap in place for 2020/21, 2021/22, and 2022/23 will be lifted.
Tuition will be allowed to increase by 7% at the institutional level, and 10% at the program level.
Exact increases for specific programs are at the discretion of the institution.
There is no cap for international students Bill 19, introduced in 2018, is the legislation that amended thePost-Secondary Learning (PSL) Act to extend the tuition freeze and to cap tuition across all programs for domestic students. The changes were also captured in the Alberta Tuition Framework, released in early 2019. With the changes introduced by the current government, these provisions will be  removed and/or adjusted in the PSL. As part of implementing Budget 2019, Bill 21 was introduced on October 28, 2019 to lift the cap on post-secondary tuition increases for three academic years.
Student Loans Interest increases to prime +1% as of April 1, 2020 The government factored in an offset of a 2.5% reduction in federal loan interest rates (as per the federal Budget 2019) effective November 1.
Students who have a larger portion of Alberta Student Loans will incur more debt with this increase.
Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) Cancelled The program provided a wage subsidy that encouraged employers to hire summer students, thereby helping students to “build meaningful work experience, increase their skills, gain workplace insight and help prepare them for the future.”
Cancellation impacts thousands of student summer jobs and eliminates opportunities for students to get real world work experience.
Education and tuition tax credits Cancelled for the 2020 tax year Once working full-time jobs, students could reduce taxes owing through the use of tuition credits.
Existing credits will carry forward, but no new credits can be accumulated after next year.
Infrastructure Maintenance Program (IMP) Suspended for 2019/20.
University of Calgary was expecting to receive $22 million in 2019/20.
The IMP provided millions in funding to update classroom and facilities infrastructure. It will be resumed in 2021, but the amount is not yet clear.
Some current and  future infrastructure improvements will likely be cancelled.

What we have done so far

We are very concerned about the impact the provincial budget will have on graduate students, and on the University of Calgary. As your representatives, the GSA is working hard to voice graduate students’ priorities with both government and university officials.

So far, we’ve:

  • Lobbying the Minister of Advanced Education, the Minister of Labour and Immigration, and the Advanced Education Critic among other elected officials to voice graduate students’ priorities around stable and sustainable funding, support for professional development and mental health programs, and support for international students transition to Permanent Residency. Pictures of these interactions have been shared on our social media.
  • Collaborating with the provincial advocacy bodies and other student associations through our membership with the Alberta Graduate Provincial Advocacy Council (ab-GPAC), which is the collective voice for Alberta’s Graduate Students. As ab-GPAC members, we were heavily involved in drafting a joint press release with provincial counterparts to express our concerns with Budget 2019.
  • Working with the Students’ Union to voice our priorities and concerns and push for UCalgary administration to consult students prior to making tuition or fee changes. As part of this, we have been regularly meeting with the Provost to share our concerns pertaining to predictability, affordability, fairness, accountability, protecting the student experience and the quality of education, and tangible benefits to students.
  • Presenting information as we have it at Student at the Graduate Representative Council (GRC)
  • Consolidating available information to help students easily understand the changes introduced by the budget and the expected impacts.
  • Meeting with the Minister of Advanced Education on November 4 to express our concerns.

Joint Press Release

Provincial student advocacy groups respond to Budget 2019. Read the joint press release here.