Dropping oil prices may affect Alberta’s future PSE budgets

December 1, 2014

As the price of oil continues to drop, Alberta’s education minister is warning PSE institutions to be ready for a new “fiscal reality,” reports the Globe and Mail. Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education Don Scott said he has been given instructions from the premier to be “fiscally prudent going forward,” but he also pledged to ensure that colleges and universities in the province are not taken by surprise by any future funding changes. Budget cuts of almost 7% in 2013 shocked many institutions, who were left grappling with the decrease in funding; much of the funding was re-introduced in subsequent budgets. Scott suggested that proposed market-based tuition hikes are “one technique that institutions have to maintain their competitiveness.” Scott has been gathering feedback from students and administrators about the proposed fee changes, and said student groups are divided on the topic. While no decisions have yet been made about future PSE budgets in the face of a projected 8% drop in oil prices, Scott was clear that “the one thing that is important is that institutions need the lead time to plan.” Globe and Mail