The Government of Alberta did not cut the arts budget, they cut everyone’s budget. All post-secondary institutions had to make tough choices, and the engineering faculty had to bear their share of the government’s operating grant cut. The $142.5 million investment is an infrastructure investment — a clear priority to the government — regardless of their investment in post-secondary education. To be able to enrol an additional 400 students (a 10 per cent increase to the Schulich School of Engineering), the engineering faculty will need additional operating funds, something the government has not agreed to, leaving engineering in the same boat as arts. The timing of the budget cuts and timing of this investment suggest that money is being funneled from arts into engineering but this is a misperception. Requests for funding for the engineering building started in 2007, and further delays to the project will cost taxpayers even more to complete.
Education in Canada is not private; industry should never have to fund it. Nonetheless, corporate Calgary does indeed support education, and to suggest otherwise is absurd. On October 18, 2013, the University of Calgary received its largest ever corporate donation of $7 million to fund the engineering complex and this adds to the total $54 million that the Engineering Leaders Campaign has brought through private and corporate donations.
While 6,000 high school students across the province weren’t accepted into university last year due to lack of space, over 2,000 alone were rejected from the Schulich School of Engineering. This shows a undeniable demand for students wanting to enter engineering. While perhaps budget cuts are limiting entry into low-enrolment programs within arts, the high-demand programs within engineering are hindered by both the budget cuts and a severe need for a renovated
Two future engineers, and concerned Albertans,
Amy Zell and Shahir Mishriki