Campus Saint-Jean and budgetary challenges

All programs announced for the fall of 2020 maintained - quality of instruction will not be affected.

20 May 2020

Campus Saint-Jean is aware of the demonstration of solidarity from many French-speaking communities in Canada, North America and throughout the world, mobilized to ensure the survival and development of our historic institution. We are touched by this solidarity and wish to express our gratitude - each message received or circulated across social networks encourages us in our mission to be a crossroads of academic, linguistic and cultural life.

If the challenges linked to budget cuts and chronic underfunding of Campus Saint-Jean have an impact on its operations, we nevertheless wish to clarify the situation in regards to the expectations of students and their families - especially those who will start their university or college courses at the start of the fall 2020 term - and reassure them that Campus Saint-Jean will be able to offer its programs during the year 2020-2021 and beyond.

Because of its mixed funding method (federal and provincial) and the constant negotiations between the two levels of government, Campus Saint-Jean remains in a delicate budgetary balance. Budget cuts and directives from the Government of Alberta have exacerbated this imbalance. The ACFA, which, along with the province and the university, is one of the three partners in the Campus Saint-Jean creation agreement, has decided to "sound the alarm" and launch its campaign.

Faced with the challenges of budget cuts, the Dean of Campus Saint-Jean; Pierre-Yves Mocquais, has presented a plan for 2020-2021 to the central administration of the University of Alberta that partially reduces costs while preserving the integrity of the programs. Steps have also been taken to reduce operational costs.

Despite layoffs and steps taken to reduce costs, Campus Saint-Jean has thus taken the necessary measures to ensure that academic programs can continue, thanks in particular to the efforts of academic and administrative staff, to higher workloads, but also thanks to a revised approach to program content, pedagogy, technology and course delivery.

Campus Saint-Jean has thus chosen to adapt; this process was started over two years ago in order to guarantee students a unique educational experience focused on inter- and trans-disciplinarity, as well as on the applicability of knowledge and skills to the professional world.

Through directed readings, greater proximity between teachers and students, the use of new technologies, and greater flexibility in the combination of courses within the programs, we have taken and continue to take a resolved step towards the future in order to strengthen the sustainability of Francophonie in our province.

We want to ensure that the educational experience at Campus Saint-Jean remains of the highest level, and that our students come out of our institution equipped with all the skills and assets necessary to face the challenges that they will encounter throughout their career.

We understand the anxiety that the current budgetary situation can create, yet Campus Saint-Jean can continue its mission and requires the support and confidence of students and families. We can thus guarantee that all the programs announced for the fall of 2020 will be maintained and that the quality of instruction will not be affected.

The consequences of budgetary restrictions will have an impact above all on the development of the Campus in the face of a growing French-speaking population having moved to Alberta from other parts of Canada, French-speaking Europe and French-speaking Africa.. While some courses will indeed be suspended, we have managed to maintain the level of excellence required by a Faculty of the University of Alberta while demonstrating flexibility and adaptability, and by promoting the use of new technologies as well as a modern and forward-looking approach to education. This approach has allowed us to be ready to face the challenges of COVID-19. The transition to online courses had been in preparation for a long time and uses an innovative framework for educational and digital transformation.

However, these efforts are only sustainable in the medium term. In fact, the demands linked to the strong growth of the Francophone population in Alberta mean that we have to develop a new and sustainable approach to funding. A status quo, or a budget cut beyond our current proposals, would hit not only Campus Saint-Jean, but the francophone community of Western Canada as a whole.

For almost 112 years, the Campus Saint-Jean community has stood out thanks to its unity and solidarity. Today, we face significant challenges, but we find that these qualities only come out reinforced. We will continue to guarantee a unique experience, centered around the use of the French language and the values of Francophonie. We will only come out stronger in our vision and our mission.

The importance of our institution within the Alberta Francophonie is historic and obvious - but our role in the Province of Alberta, and in the Canadian West, has never been more important. We are aware that the quality of our bold interdisciplinary programs and the quality of our research achievements - notably within the framework of our transdisciplinary research institute (IMELDA) or the work of transdisciplinary research groups - will have a profound impact on Canadian and North American society as a whole, as well as on the world's Francophonie. Campus Saint-Jean is confident that neither the university nor the Government of Alberta will let our institution disappear - discussions are underway between ACFA and the two levels of government to remedy the chronic financial precariousness of the Campus .

Whatever decisions we make about our future, we are and will remain a vibrant, dynamic, creative and forward-looking institution. We are opening our doors - virtually - to all those who support us, and we are excited to welcome our new students for the fall term.