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From the Archives: Albertans say U of A is underfunded

Albertans concerned U of A’s quality of education will decline if government funding isn’t increased.

From the Archives is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recounting historical articles written by the publication from years past.

One of the main things on students’ minds for the past few years has been the tremendous impacts of budget cuts on the University of Alberta. 

Students have faced tuition increases, academic restructuring, and a post-pandemic education. As a result, the future of our university is on a lot of people’s minds.  

This article written by Warren Ferguson in 1991 shows students and Albertans alike, had many of the same worries concerning the university’s future, three decades ago. The article came at another time when the Albertan government greatly reduced the University of Alberta’s funding. It snowballed into a rise in tuition costs, much like what we’re experiencing today under the cuts brought in by Jason Kenney.

Harvey Krahn, a sociologist and former U of A professor, conducted the survey used in the article. He taught and did research here until 2020, when he retired as a professor emeritus.
The following article is taken from the October 31, 1991 edition of The Gateway.

Albertans believe the quality of university education will probably decline unless government funding is increased.

This was one of the conclusions drawn by the University of Alberta’s Population Research Laboratory in a survey released Tuesday morning.

Survey author Harvey Krahn studied public opinions regarding university education, with specific reference to reduced government funding, high tuition fees, and equal access to university education for members of disadvantaged groups.

The survey is released at a time when universities are faced by high operating costs, declining funds, and repeated charges by students that the quality of education is declining.

Government funding for universities has not kept pace with the growth in enrolment and inflation. Krahn reported that 73 per cent of all respondents agreed that the quality of education will likely decline unless funding is increased. Of those who agreed with the need for extra funding, three-quarters said they would still be in favour if some tax increases resulted.

The percentage of those who recommend an increase in tuition fees was small. Eighteen per cent favoured an increase, while 78 per cent would prefer that tuition fees remained at the current level.

Despite the interest in a trimester system by many students, only about one-quarter (23 per cent) of the respondents said that someone else in their household might be more likely to attend university if a trimester system was instituted.

Over half of all Edmontonians (51 per cent) consider the U of A above average. Forty-eight per cent considered the university average.

Six out of ten (59 per cent) agreed with the policy of raising the university enrollment requirement from 65 to 70 per cent in high school subjects.

More than half (57 per cent) of Albertans believe that spaces should be reserved in the university for [Indigenous] students.

Albertans are mixed on the presence of [international] students. Forty-nine per cent said that [international] students enhance the quality of education for all students. The proportion of those who disagree with this statement is much smaller (27 per cent).

Six out of 10 Edmontonians were on campus in the last two years.

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