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UCP doing little to help post-secondary students, says NDP

Student debt projected to increase by $1.7 billion in the next two years
Alberta NDP advanced education critic David Eggen says a two per cent tuition cap starting in 2024-25 is not enough. (Contributed)

A future two per cent cap on post-secondary tuition by the UPC does little to make higher education affordable for young Albertans, says the NDP.

“This UCP government has increased tuition in this province by more than 30 per cent in the last four budgets and they will continue to allow increases until 2024-25,” said NDP advanced education critic David Eggen.

And if inflation exceeds two per cent, colleges, universities and polytechnics will have to make cuts to make up the difference, he added.

Eggen said the UCP has already cut operational funding for post-secondaries by $1.2 billion since taking power resulting in the loss of almost 5,000 staff.

“Red Deer Polytechnic can’t just hold the line. It needs to grow to meet the growing population of young students in central Alberta. By failing to repair the damage the UCP has imposed over these last four budgets, we left wondering how a place like Red Deer Polytechnic can achieve that goal.”


Tuition cap, a lower student loan interest rate and other affordability measures welcomed by RDP students

In February, the province announced the tuition cap, in addition to a retroactive increase of $225 per month for this term for low-income students who received the Alberta Student Grant, a lower interest rate on student loans and a 12 month, up from a six month, interest-free grace period.

Eggen said the UCP has taken so much money away from post-secondary institutions and is only putting a fraction of that back with these strategies.

“I don’t see anything that will provide a light at the end of this tunnel. Student debt is projected to increase by $1.7 billion in the next two years.”

He wants Advanced Education Minster Demetrios Nicolaides to acknowledge how the two per cent cut will lead to further cuts by the institutions.

“If you don’t backfill compensation for a tuition cap you are simply undermining the institutions in another way.”


Red Deer Polytechnic welcomes prospect of more apprenticeship students with government investment

Eggen said the UCP has blown a big hole in post-secondary budgets and a systematic approach is needed to repair the damage.

“Considering we have a very large population of young people in grade school right now, not only do we need to repair the damage, we need to build spaces for these young Albertans. If we don’t they will not go to school, or they will go elsewhere. It’s as simple as that.”

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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