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The UCP budget cuts: Our wake-up call

By Manahil Hassan, November 21 2019—

There is no doubt that the sweeping news of the UCP budget announced on Oct. 24 is affecting people all over Alberta. The five-year freeze on tuition introduced by the former NDP government is coming to an end as the new UCP budget cuts begin to take their place for the ensuing years. Not only are teachers being affected but post-secondary students are bearing the brunt of the new budget cuts. Students like us. 

Education is a privilege that many people don’t get the advantage to invest in. For many individuals, a good education is a way to chase their dreams and turn their aspirations into reality. For others, it is a way to set themselves up for their future so they can work hard to indulge in the finer things in life. Education is a medium through which many people can get what they want and it is often expensive.  

The UCP budget, despite some of its benefits, should be assessed. As students, we already have our plates spilling over with the constant influx of assignments due by the end of the week, the midterms that seem to be never-ending and extra-curricular activities we signed up for during clubs week. While trying to get an education, we endeavour to be proactive and think about what graduate school or jobs we want to pursue. This is simply a never-ending cycle and adding the UCP budget cuts to our worries is quite frankly, sadistic. By the first month of 2020 we have the pure joy of witnessing a rise in our tuition by seven per cent each year and by 10 per cent in individual programs. This means that between first year and fourth year, tuition can rise from 28—40 per cent. Not everyone has the money to pay for this increase and most importantly, no one wants to spend their lives worrying about being buried deep in debt. 

Another aspect of the UCP budget we have the pleasure of looking forward to is the increase in interest rates on student loans. Not only do we have a rise in tuition to anticipate, but low-interest loans seem to be a story of the past. Loans will now increase from prime to prime plus one percent and students paying off $30,000 in loans over a ten-year period can expect to pay an extra $15 per month on average as interest. Many people take out loans each year and would have depended on low-interest government loans and grants to help pay their way through university. But now, they are burdened by this policy while large corporations get a tax cut.  

We can also expect to see up to 300 teachers from the Calgary Board of Education losing their jobs. Teachers, who invest their time in future generations to teach them the basics of what is right and wrong are being disregarded and will lose their jobs. 

The UCP budget cuts prove to be a gross disadvantage to the average resident and citizen and we cannot sit by and let this happen. Is it worth affecting all these people just to avoid raising taxes?

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet‘s editorial board.

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