EDMONTON, AB (March 6, 2013): Revelations today that Athabasca University had to spend $125,000 lobbying high-ranking government officials for post-secondary funding perfectly illustrates the PCs’ political approach to education funding, Wildrose Advanced Education Critic Bruce McAllister said today.
As reported by the CBC, Athabasca University spent $125,000 over a two-year period on outside lobbyists in a bid to secure funding from the province. McAllister said post-secondary institutions should be funded based on merit, need and priority - not favour, access and politics. “What a sad state of affairs that universities are forced to rely more and more on their own personal connections to the Minister’s office than on the merit of their particular funding requests,” McAllister said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable that the president of a post-secondary institution should be able to pick up the phone and call the Minister directly.” He said universities shouldn’t be using public dollars to hire PC lobbyists to secure more public dollars. “Universities are chasing their tails trying to get this government to listen to them,” McAllister said. “This is public money that should be spent in classrooms and on learning, not funneled to PC-connected lobbyists to gain more favour with the government.” Post-secondary institutions should not take the full blame for instances such as the one at Athabasca University, McAllister adds. “They are doing what they think they have to do to get their priorities addressed,” McAllister said. “The PC government has created this environment in which it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and if you want their attention, you better be prepared to pay for it.”