University of Alberta mulls financial woes

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Fewer courses, larger class sizes and the possibility of requiring a longer time to complete a degree is a tough pill to swallow, but the University of Alberta is preparing to knock it back regardless.

A town-hall forum was held on Friday, Sept. 6 at the U of A outlining the school’s dire financial state.

During the forum, U of A president Indira Samarasekera announced that the school will put the axe to $56 million in funding for the 2014–15 budget. This, in addition to the $28 million already cut from the current school year, is giving both faculty and students serious cause for concern. The U of A had hoped to spread the $84 million in budget cuts demanded by the province over the next three years, but minister of advanced education and enterprise Thomas Lukaszuk informed them last week of an accelerated timeline.

“It’s clear that we’re the [Campus Alberta] institution struggling the most with these budgetary shortfalls,” U of A Students’ Union vice-president external Adam Woods told the Gauntlet on Tuesday.

Woods said the usual suspects have been dredged up.

“Through voluntary severance packages, through cutting programs, cutting enrolment, it clearly is affecting our quality of education. We have qualified science students who are being turned down. And that is something that drastically concerns us,” Woods said.

At the moment, no announcement has been made regarding what steps the U of A will take to meet the budgetary goals set by the government.

Professors have until Sept. 16 to decide whether to take the offered voluntary buyouts. A 2014–15 draft budget for the school will likely be released in October.