Last week, the Alberta government announced $1.7 million to go toward “helping more students with developmental disabilities pursue post-secondary education”.
The funding is spent between two programmes—Inclusive Post-Secondary Education and Transitional Vocational—both of which have been around for years.
The IPSE programme, coordinated by Inclusion Alberta, helps adults with developmental disabilities build the skills needed to live independently and contribute to their community.
The transitional vocational programme is a one-year post-secondary program that focuses on employment and skills training.
Here are the recipients of the funding:
|Inclusion Alberta||$1.19 million||—|
|Mount Royal University||$0.16 million||$0.18 million|
|Lethbridge Family Services||—||$0.21 million|
The announcement didn’t specify how many more students this funding will help; however, it did claim that the government “currently supports more than 248 post-secondary students with developmental disabilities.” It wasn’t clear if that support comes exclusively from IPSE and TVP contracts or includes other programmes.
And while that’s great that funding is going toward students with disabilities to help them attain their educational goals, the announcement left out a pretty big missing piece of the puzzle.
Last month’s mid-year fiscal update forecasted the Alberta government spending $5.069 billion on advanced education this year. The year before, it was $5.132 billion, which means, it’s down by $63 million. The year before that, the government spent $5.477 billion.
That means, the government plans to spend $408 million less this year on post-secondary education than they did just two years ago.
And when you cut post-secondary spending by roughly half a billion over 2 years (not including inflation and population growth costs), you’re going to end up with a lower quality educations: fewer programmes, larger class sizes, longer response times from support staff, and so on.
So, while it’s great that some students with disabilities will be able to go to attend post-secondary education through this new funding, will it amount to a net benefit if there are fewer post-secondary options for those students to choose from?