Portage College recently received word that Alberta Human Services (AHS) is prepared to cut as much as 60% of their Skills Investment Plan (SIP) funding starting in the 2014-2015 academic year.
The SIP helps to directly fund living allowances for students taking upgrading programs.
More recent changes include loss of funding to certificate programs effective April 2014.
“Erosion of funding to underrepresented learners, particularly Aboriginal women, is a grave concern,” said Dr. Trent Keough, President and CEO of Portage College.
The College is now forced to build 2014-2015 budgets with anticipated cuts from the SIP student allowance budget. According to AHS, the reduction could come with a complete 60% drop in 2014 unless there is a staged reduction agreement with the Federal Government. The loss of support money is directly attributed to the Federal Government’s Canada Jobs Grant Program.
“The way this cut has been communicated doesn’t leave us with a whole lot of options,” Keough said. “We need to prepare for significant enrolment declines, and anticipate a steep drop in support for our upgrading students. Right now we anticipate 100 fewer academic upgrading students, on top of a forecasted annual decline. Unfortunately, that does not leave us with a viable upgrading cohort for next year.”
The College does have several awards and bursaries available to students that can help relieve financial pressure, however, the cuts will force the College to reevaluate how they deliver upgrading programs in the future.
“The loss of funding means the absolute elimination of viable learning and skills development opportunities for our traditional students,” said Mardere Birkill, Vice President Academic. “Fortunately we have embarked on program diversification ensuring institutional viability. Our traditional students will have to adjust to the new funding reality as we ourselves do.”