Back to top

CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2012

Operating Grant Cutbacks in PEI Budget

Along with a projected deficit of almost $75 million for fiscal year 2011–2012, the Prince Edward Island budget presented last month revealed few surprises for post-secondary institutions in the province.

The University of Prince Edward Island and Holland College were notified in advance of the April 18 budget of a 3 per cent cut from operating grants. While increases to student bursaries and moving to provide interest-free provincial student loans were also announced, debt levels for students in Atlantic Canada remain the highest in Canada.

Betty Jeffery, president of the UPEI Faculty Association, welcomed the increases in student financial assistance, but said the “extremely serious levels” of graduates’ debt need to be addressed as do the cuts to university operating grants.

“Taking a million dollars out of the university’s grant and putting it into student assistance doesn’t seem to be a sustainable approach to the challenges facing the university and its students,” she said.

Also announced was the government’s intent to strike a task force in partnership with post-secon­dary institutions to study the pro­vince’s job training and labour force competitiveness, explore ways of attracting and retaining post-secondary students, and to build PEI into a “post-secondary education destination.”

Jeffery couldn’t comment about the task force because the announcement is sparse on details, but she warned with academic staff salary scales already among the lowest in Canada, and further pressure on institutions to deal with cutbacks, that “falling even farther behind will make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain good academic staff.”