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Many students are forced to choose between education and everything else.
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Public group urges change in PSE

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Alberta's booming economy is lacking knowledge, according to an Albertan advocacy organization.

Public Interest Alberta is hosting three public forums across Alberta to discuss post-secondary education. The public forums are part of PIA's campaign It's Time to Invest in Post-Secondary Education, which includes a 2006 survey of Alberta students and their parents. The findings of the report found an overwhelming concern with the general direction of education quality and costs in Alberta in both K-12 and PSE.

Those surveyed opposed the increase to public school fees, as well as the methods of fundraising and felt that Alberta high school students were not receiving a level of education that prepared them for university.

In response to their research, the PIA is holding three forums across Alberta in an attempt to create public debate and discussion about Alberta education prior to the upcoming provincial elections. Calgary's forum will be held 6:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 30 at Best Western Village Park Inn.

PIA executive director Bill Moore-Killgannon explained their campaign is to encourage the Albertan government to invest in education.

"We want to concentrate on four areas: accessibility, affordability, quality, and real investment," said Moore-Killgannon. "We want the Alberta Government to expand post-secondary. Right now post-secondary isn't keeping up with the population growth in this province."

The Alberta government needs to invest in attracting more 'higher quality' grad students. Moore-Killgannon stressed this is crucial to sustainable PSE.

"It is these [grad] students which are going to become the professors in the future," he said. "We have to find ways to attract them to our universities and ways to keep them in Alberta."

PIA is advocating a strong PSE system to help build a powerful, diversified economy. Through investment in PSE, Alberta can build an economy that is not entirely dependant on the energy industry. A knowledge-based economy can give the province something to fall back on once we use up the natural resources, noted Moore-Killgannon.

The forum will include presentations and small discussion groups for attendees to discuss possible modes of action to encourage investment in Alberta's PSE.

Selnes noted the campaign will call attention to essential issues.

"The future of our province depends on an educated population," he said. "The government can't make cuts in the down times and not reinvest in the prosperous times."

Moore-Killgannon agreed that the provincial government can't ignore investment in education any longer.

"The Alberta government can't keep belittling the growing demands of a society that is under a lot of pressure," he said.

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