uAlberta President says cancelling TransformUS will hurt other institutions

September 18, 2014

University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera warns that the University of Saskatchewan’s decision to move away from its TransformUS plan could have a negative impact on other universities. Samarasekera says that the plan was informed by a critical need to prioritize some programs while cutting others. This, she claims, is the only way Canadian universities will be able to compete internationally given governments' inability to provide above-inflation funding increases. “They’ve set themselves back and potentially affected the ability of other university presidents and administrations to take risks, because they took some risks and they got slapped down,” Samarasekera said in an interview. She notes that at uAlberta, they have had to deal with funding constraints by increasing the average required for admission, which she says is costing the institution talented students. Samarasekera also spoke about recent requests from some Alberta schools, including uAlberta, to increase tuition for certain programs. “We have a perverse system where we’ve kept tuition low for everyone,” she said. “As a result we are restricting our ability to increase the quality of the programs … Often times, when you keep tuition low, what you can’t cover are things like co-op opportunities, like extracurricular activities.” Globe and Mail