The Government of Alberta is tying to kill four post-secondary birds with one stone. Bill 43, the Post-Secondary Learning Act, 2003, was recently introduced in the Legislature and seeks to combine four existing acts, the Universities Act, the Colleges Act, the Technical Institutes Act, and the Banff Centre Act, into one cohesive set of guidelines.
The government claims the act will increase access to post-secondary education while granting individual institutions greater flexibility. Administration at the University of Calgary is optimistic.
"If it works well, two things will be accomplished," stated Roman Cooney, University of Calgary Vice-President External Relations. "First, it will make it easier for students at any post-secondary institution to get into programs that meet their wants and needs. Secondly, it should increase the overall quality of education in this province. The system should reflect the need for students to get the credentials and quality education to allow them to succeed in a competitive work environment."
Sentiments at the Students' Union border more on cautious, though they are aware that it is still early in the process.
"It's hard to reach a final conclusion on the Bill since it's only the first reading," explained SU Vice-President External Lauren Batiuk, adding that Learning Minister Lyle Oberg introduced it early in order to garner feedback. "Right now, it's all just speculation. We're in the process of examining the act, meeting with MLAs, gauging reaction and assessing the legality of some of the issues.
"I think more than anything they're just silencing the critics," Batiuk continued. "If [the Alberta government] is granted the power to dissolve [the SU], then what real power do we have?"
Some other key aspects of the proposed act are increased flexibility for the institutional boards, facilitation of the development and expansion of degree completion opportunities and ensuring that institutions have clear and complementary mandates.
To see the Bill, visit http://www.assembly.ab.ca/pro/bills/ba-bill.asp?SelectBill=043