Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the problem we’re trying to solve?


  • Since 2017, the Faculty of Education operating budget has decreased by 20 per cent and the Government of Alberta has signaled continued budget reductions for the University of Alberta in fiscal 2022 & 2023 in addition to the $127 million cut already incurred.
  • In order to manage these significant financial reductions, the University is transforming administrative services and academic structures.
  • In the Faculty of Education, a 20 per cent reduction in the number of FTEs by the end of 2022 means that we have to think differently about how we work and how we are structured in order to maintain a high-quality student experience.
  • Academic restructuring within the Faculty allows us to combine and focus our existing resources on supporting students and supporting our core mission of teaching and research.

Greater Cohesion:

  • Separate from the reality of budget cuts and in the context of our strategic planning process in 2017-2018, faculty and staff expressed the need to break down existing silos in the Faculty, silos that were felt to be a function of the current academic structure. Our commitment to addressing this need is articulated in Education for the Public Good, under Faculty Structures, Processes and Resources (pg. 14).
  • Faculty, staff and students expressed a desire to consider different ways of organizing ourselves academically, to explore opportunities for synergies and collaborations across the Faculty, program areas and specializations. Academic restructuring presents new possibilities for interdisciplinary research collaborations across program areas and specializations, and opportunities for teaching across programs.
  • The Undergraduate Program Review (2017-2018) also identified challenges in delivering the teacher education program across four departments. Again, academic restructuring creates opportunities for responding to and mitigating these challenges.

Thus, we are attempting to solve both budget and organizational challenges as we propose new academic and administrative structures that aim to keep our core mission of teaching and research front of mind by creating structures that support these in a context of significant cost cutting.

Why can’t we leave things as they are?
  • We will have 20 per cent fewer staff in the Faculty by the end of 2022.
  • Our budget reductions since 2017 mean that we are working with 25 per cent less over a five-year period.
  • If we do not seek to change in innovative and creative ways, we are in danger of diminishing the quality of the student experience and the supports available for teaching and research.
  • Making incremental changes year after year to manage budget reductions is akin to death by a thousand cuts.
  • There are also certain factors outside the Faculty that we have no control over but must respond to. These will result in substantial changes across the institution and within the Faculty.
What cost savings are associated with moving to a non-departmentalized structure?
Moving from five to no departments approximate cost savings are as follows:
  • Reduction in total number of leadership positions = $216,000 (course release); $37,500 (administrative stipends); $35,000 (GRA Support)
  • Reduction in four FTE Staff positions (accounted for in SET reductions) = $350,000
  • Administrative reorganization = $120,000
  • Incidental costs associated with Department structure = $40,000

* Estimated hard costs = $798,500

For Students:

I’m in Secondary Education. Will my program cease to exist because the Department of Secondary Education is being dissolved?

No! Our elementary and secondary undergraduate teacher education programs will continue to be delivered as they always have. Secondary courses will continue to be designated as EDSE and elementary courses as EDEL. The same is true for classes that were previously administered by the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Educational Psychology. These will continue to be listed as either EDPS or EDPY classes.

I’m a graduate student. How will I be affected by Faculty restructuring?

Administrative support for graduate students across all departments has already been centralized in Education Student Services. Programs will continue to be offered, and any changes to program requirements will follow the required governance processes and pathways. Students in current programs will be able to complete their programs regardless of future changes.

Since I am no longer in a department, how will I connect with other students?

Undergraduate student groups such as the EESA and ESSA will continue to exist and provide opportunities for leadership, learning and social connections, as will the Education Students Association which is an elected body.

The graduate student groups will also remain (all 6 of them!) and are forming an executive committee to share and learn across the groups. Opportunities to connect across and within programs will be facilitated by faculty members and student leadership.

In addition, the BIPOC and Allies Student Association will continue to be supported by the Faculty and have space in the Education Building.

In addition to various student organizations, as the Hubs develop, there will be opportunities for students to be involved as appropriate.

For Staff:

What will happen to my departmental position when departments no longer exist?

We have experienced significant staff reductions through the SET process and our new administrative structure will reflect some of the institutional changes, including the creation of the College Offices of Education and Research. With the elimination of Departments, staff will be organized in teams to support the overall functioning of the Faculty. The Administrative Restructuring Working Group is looking carefully at needs across the Faculty and will be connecting with staff in the near future for discussion and feedback on the proposed new administrative model. Job fact sheets/job cards will be updated to reflect any changes (normally most job duties will not change).

When will support staff receive their updated job cards/ job descriptions?

We will be working with and consulting the staff as we work through the job cards. We have prioritized the positions that need to be evaluated first. We are aiming to have this completed by the end of 2022.

Where will I be working?

Staff will continue working from their present locations. As the restructuring continues, further communication will be provided. We are discussing this and determining what makes the most sense, given the recent staff cuts, we are considering centralizing staff on one or two floors in order to provide backup and support to one another.

How will we manage the massive amount of data stored in GDrives, all sorted by Dept ID? What is the new filing structure going to look like?

We will consult with the Office of Records Management and we will work with Technologies in Education to ensure we transition the records while following records management protocols.

For Faculty:

How will faculty members maintain a sense of belonging in a non-departmentalized structure?

Sense of belonging is important regardless of academic structure. Thus, the creation of communities of practice is one mechanism whereby a sense of belonging can be established regardless of academic structure. Program areas (already in existence) are another mechanism that shapes a sense of belonging in a non-departmentalized structure, as do opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations.

Will I be assigned to teach a course in a disciplinary area I do not have expertise in?

No. As has always been our practice, faculty members teach courses in their area of knowledge. For example, a member of SCCP would not be assigned to teach an Art Education course simply because there is a need for an instructor in that area. Our students benefit from learning from highly knowledgeable faculty members with disciplinary understanding and experience. We must ensure that students are at the centre of our collective work in a non-departmentalized faculty.

How will I be supported / mentored in the new structure?

From July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, faculty members will be directly supported by the Interim Chair positions. Current Department Chairs will ensure that workload assignments for the next year are in place before June 30 and are endeavouring to have as many ATs confirmed as possible. Department Chairs continue to have the authority to make decisions on Department matters until the Interim Chairs officially take on their roles. Department Chairs will also provide transition support to the incoming Interim Chairs, and faculty members will know which Interim Chair will be supporting them well in advance of July 1. The Interim Chairs will be responsible for FEC and the annual report cycle.

In addition, faculty members will receive support from the Associate Deans, the Dean and the Vice-Dean in various formal and informal ways. Restructuring affords an opportunity to create a mentorship strategy across the Faculty with distributed support. Shortly, faculty-wide conversations will be facilitated as we think together about what this might look like.

How will my day-to-day work be affected by restructuring?

With institutional changes to administrative support, many of us are already experiencing some changes to our work as we navigate through new systems, forms, and approval processes. However, teaching, research and service will continue as it always has and we anticipate minimal disruption in our day-to-day lives.

How will I connect and belong now that there are no departments?

There will continue to be program related connections and collaboration (i.e. Secondary Education and SCCP), however, the conceptualization of Hubs (CoPs) as new ways to connect across the Faculty will provide new opportunities as well.

Will the program clusters assigned to each Interim Chair become councils?

No, that is not the intent. Rather, clustering programs enables the interim Chairs to better understand the work of faculty members in these areas, and to ensure that all classes within the program clusters are scheduled and staffed appropriately.

How will our sessional instructors be oriented and mentored?

We are planning a Faculty Welcome and Information Session for new and returning sessionals in late August (being cognizant that contracts regularly begin in September). We will also provide the Instructor Manual to them. The Manual will include a directory of who to go to in relation to specific issues and how to contact them. Mentoring will happen throughout the year by the Interim Chairs, Interim Associate Chairs and Subject Colleagues.

Creating Interim Chairs does not remove the department structure. It only combines smaller departments into larger ones. It seems that eliminating Department Chairs will result in more Associate Dean positions, hence not resulting in any financial savings.

Interim Chairs will be supporting program clusters. Currently, the Leadership Roles Working Group is actively seeking to put forward a new leadership structure for the Faculty, with roles / responsibilities clearly articulated and that ensure students continue to be at the centre and well supported across the Faculty. There is an overall decrease in leadership roles in the Faculty from 19 to 12. Since 2017, two Associate Dean positions have been eliminated and the work distructed across other leadership portfolios. The naming of leadership positions in the new structure has yet to be finalized.

How will research projects be organized if not tied to departments?

Research projects are tied to the home department. Once the home departments (or department like structures) have been confirmed the research projects will reside there. In the meantime, the research projects will remain where they currently reside.