By Kristy Koehler, June 17 2020—
The Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) is viewing the delay of performance-based funding as a win.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, CAUS advocated for the implementation of the new funding model to be pushed back, citing a need for stability. Sadiya Nazir, the previous chair of CAUS and previous vice-president external of the University of Calgary Students’ Union, had concerns about the timeline to begin with, but stated that, amidst covid concerns, the delay became more important than ever. Nazir noted that “the devil really is in the details” and that students had not been adequately consulted and, without a significant delay, it would be difficult to have meaningful or effective consultation.
The newly-elected CAUS executive picked up where the outgoing team left off and wasted no time in continuing to advocate for a delay. A press release lauding the eventual decision to move back the implementation date was issued June 3.
Marley Gillies, current vice-president external of the SU and vice-chair of CAUS, says the organization has still not seen any drafts of investment management agreements or been informed as to what metrics will carry what weight with regard to funding percentages.
“We were kept in the dark,” she said. “And that’s why we proceeded the way we did in asking for a delay.
“We definitely see this as a win. But, we’re cautious going forward to make sure that this is not just because of pandemic issues but that we’re taking a bigger look at the effects that this funding model might have on institutions and essentially trickle down to the student experience.”
She noted that assessing labour market outcomes or enrollment of international students simply would not be reasonable as those factors are out of the institution’s control during a pandemic.
Gillies says CAUS will continue to advocate for student consultation on the metrics. CAUS is also focused on the immediate needs of students that have come to the forefront during the public health crisis, but also noted that it’s important to keep in mind what students in the coming years will face as CAUS plans its advocacy strategy going forward.
“We just want to make sure that we’re upholding what the student experience and the quality of education should like across the board in Alberta,” she said.
Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides maintains that performance-based funding is absolutely necessary and that a delay is simply a delay — not a move toward a cancellation.
During question period in the legislature, Nicolaides noted that the United Conservative Party is “working with our post-secondary institutions to ensure a proper roll out.” He also stated that the University of ALberta receives almost the same dollar amount in funding as the University of Toronto, an institution with 50,000 more students.
Performance-based funding was announced in late January, and was expected to be implemented on April 1.