Why Now?

At a glance

  • We are at a critical turning point.
  • We face an anticipated 33% cut ($216M) to the U of A’s Government of Alberta grant over 3 years.
  • The scale and speed at which we must respond is unlike any faced by any other institution.
  • If we do not act now, the U of A will be a diminished university with a significantly reduced ability to contribute to economic growth and to the advancement of the public good in Alberta and beyond.
  • We need to reimagine how faculties and disciplines are organized; rethink how professional and administrative services support. 
  • With fundamental systemic reform, we can address the current funding crisis and enhance delivery on our vision and mission.

A Critical Turning Point

The University of Alberta is at a critical turning point, precipitated by multiple significant pressures. 

First, the Government of Alberta is in the process of reshaping the funding model for post-secondary education in Alberta which has led to major reductions in grant funding over 2019-20 and 2020-21. They have launched a province-wide post-secondary system review which could change the role, mandate and mission of the U of A, along with all COPPOA partners. Over the next few years, there will continue to be a shift in the balance of funding between provincial grant and tuition. The GOA’s anticipated performance-based funding model and its impact is not yet certain. Although the new funding model allows for significant tuition increases over the next three years, these increases will not make up for the reduction to the provincial grant. We face an anticipated 33% cut ($216M) to the U of A’s Government of Alberta grant over three years.

Second, the U of A’s participation in UniForum, a global benchmarking initiative to advance effectiveness and efficiency in administrative services, has revealed that with significant restructuring of how we deliver end-to-end administrative processes and services, we have an opportunity to reduce expenditures and ensure that more funding directly supports research and teaching.

Third, these challenges are further compounded by pressures created by COVID-19, which continue to unfold.

We must now steward this great institution through one of the most challenging times it has ever faced. The financial challenges are unprecedented in the history of U of A and the speed at which we must respond is unlike any faced by any other institution.

If we do not act now, the U of A will be a diminished university with a significantly reduced ability to contribute to economic growth and to the advancement of the public good in Alberta and beyond. We are currently in the process of making 1,000 staff reductions in 2019-21 — if we do not respond with strategic transformation, these cuts have the potential to negatively impact research programs and capacity. We risk a decline in the quality of student experience and a reduction in our ability to attract and retain top students and faculty, leading to major drop in international rankings.

We stand on strong foundations and have a long history of innovation and resilience. Senior leaders have worked together to eliminate the structural deficit and to create and implement a new budget model. Recent, in-depth review of academic and board governance ensures that we have strong governance to guide our decision-making.

The U of A of tomorrow will be significantly different from the U of A of today — different in academic and administrative structure and organization, more streamlined in administrative functions and services, and better positioned to be a driver of economic growth, innovation, and creativity in the province and beyond.