From the President's Desk: Response to 2020 Provincial Budget

Despite challenges, President Turpin shares how the U of A will maintain its commitment to delivering world-class teaching, research and innovation.

Aerial view of U of A North Campus

Yesterday the Government of Alberta tabled its 2020 Budget. The budget included an average cut of 6% to the base budgets of Alberta's post-secondary sector, which is being applied differentially across institutions. After analysis of the information from the Ministry of Advanced Education we have determined that the cut to U of A will be 11% for 2020-21. We are seeking further clarification to understand the full impact. This major reduction for the coming year comes on the heels of the 6.9% in-year cut we received four months ago in the province's 2019 budget. This is difficult news and the challenge ahead of us is significant.

The Government of Alberta's Budget 2020 means that we will need to continue on our path of implementing substantive and structural changes at the U of A. For many years, we have been talking as a community about the changing landscape in PSE funding models. We know we must make changes in response. While we have been positioning the institution to make this transition, we are now being asked to make this transition in a much shorter time frame of three years. To achieve this will require major structural change and will also require partnership with the government to provide us with the flexibility we need to transition to a new funding model.

Through any and all of these changes, we will maintain our responsibility to our students and to Albertans to deliver world-class teaching, research, and innovation. Class sizes will continue to grow and programming will continue to be restructured but we remain focused on the quality of our learning and research environment, ensuring that the student experience continues to evolve and meet the high standards of excellence that Albertans expect.

The University of Alberta has consistently met government expectations in a range of areas. We meet our enrolment targets, and continually work to expand our program offerings in high-demand areas to best serve Albertans. Our retention and completion rates are the highest in the province. Our graduates are highly skilled and in demand, with recent global employability rankings placing the U of A first in Alberta and second in Canada. We attract more than $500 million dollars in external research funding to Alberta annually, and over the last four years we have achieved record levels of philanthropic support.

We have been preparing the institution's 2020-21 budget on the assumption of a 5% cut to the Campus Alberta Grant in addition to rolling in the in-year 2019-20 cut of 6.9% to base budget. Now we must redouble our efforts and we recognize there are more difficult decisions to come, including further job losses. Provost Steven Dew and I will be meeting with deans and other senior leaders from across our university to immediately begin the critical work of responding to Alberta's 2020 budget.

In my five years as president, I have watched our community band together through both adversity and opportunity. I am extremely proud to work alongside such dedicated and skilled faculty, staff, and students. Together we have demonstrated tremendous resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. We will continue to do so, delivering on our commitment to provide Albertans with a world-class institution in their home province.

I commit to keeping you informed as further details become available.

David H. Turpin
President and Vice-chancellor