The U of A’s mandate letter (I’m sorry, “letter of expectation”) is out.
See it here.
Basically, the government is trampling all over the institutional independence normally expected for a major public research university and turning it into a de-facto extension of government policy. Which, by the way, is not what universities are for.
Why do we even need a BoG or Senate if the government is just going to overrule anything they want to do and impose new direction on them? All joking aside, the U of A is not badly run (especially compared to, say, several provincial ministries of the current administration), so there’s no pressing need for external intervention.
Really, the only current problem is in finances. Oh right, that was the Provincial Government’s fault too, by slashing spending for higher education because of Alberta politicians inability to have a method of stable income and instead relying on a notoriously unstable form of income to cover a substantial part of their budget.
So let’s do a check-up. We have a government intervening to fix what they see as a problem happening at a university that they caused by not giving enough funding. So their solution is to tell them how they are suppose to handle having less funding which will result in … the same amount of inadequate funding as before.
The mandate letter is pretty heavy on this new “Campus Alberta” thing. What they want is for institutions to decrease “program duplication” across campuses. In regular everyday speech, we call that healthy competition between programs. Nope, according to your Alberta Government, having more then 1 program for philosophy or music or biology (presumably) is redundant even though there is currently interest in such programs simply by the fact that they exist.
This is simply astonishing how arrogant the government can be in saying that they know what’s best for all the post-secondary institutions in the province, even the (now nominally it seems) private ones. Oh, also they want to reduce this through transfer agreements. Don’t get me wrong on that, transfer agreements are not a bad thing to do, but this new policy seems to suggest that we turn a bunch of two-bit colleges (I’m sorry, but there’s a reason people choose the U of A as their first choice) into feeder schools for better ones like the U of A.
I remember when people use to refer to Saskatchewan as some kind of “socialist” haven, but Saskatchewan never did something like this (they did change the nursing program, which use to be 2 years at SIAST and 2 at UofS/UofR to 4 years at the UofS/UofR. Nursing/Medicine is a lot more regulated through, including how many spots there are).
Congragulations Alberta, you are officially more Socialist than Saskatchewan at its heyday. Heck, I don’t even think Quebec intervenes in its Universities like this. Not impressed Government of Alberta.