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Klein bypasses feds with new scholarships

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Uncle Ralph is doling out scholarships like candy to students across the country as a gift for Alberta's 100th birthday.

A new $20 million centennial scholarship program funded by the Alberta government will provide 25 students in each of Canada's 13 provinces and territories with $2,005 for any kind of recognized post-secondary program. Each province and territory will be asked to nominate the recipients based on their own criteria, but Premier Ralph Klein hopes the money will go to those who need it most.

Student leaders are optimistic about what the province's ability to spend money on the rest of Canada means for post-secondary in Alberta.

"It's out of character for a province to put on a federal program," said University of Calgary Students' Union President Bryan West. "It doesn't even make that much sense in how the country is designed. That said, hopefully it's a window into the mind of Klein to say that education is going to be so well fixed in Alberta that nobody is going to miss the $20 million."

U of C's Vice-President External Relations Roman Cooney shares in West's optimism.

"If we were at all concerned the province wouldn't follow through on its commitment to add 60,000 seats by 2030 it would be an issue," said Cooney. "Alberta is in a position where it can create those positions, not only for us, but across the system. It doesn't hurt our students."

The scholarships will be in place for the 2006-07 academic year.

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