Students should be aware of possible changes in post-secondary institutions soon to come

By: Karlee Benediktson

Publicly funded universities and colleges in Manitoba will be expected to follow the directions outlined in the mandate letters soon to be delivered by the provincial government. 

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister gave the throne speech at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg on September 30, 2019 and said the mandate would be delivered within his re-elected government’s first one-hundred days in office.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister delivered a throne speech planning to exert mandates on post-secondary institutions across the province. /NOLAN KOWELL

“In order to reduce waste and duplication in our education system, mandate letters will be sent to all post-secondary institutions that receive provincial operating funding outlining expected students’ outcomes and financial accountability,” said Pallister.

One week later, Pallister said post-secondary schools need to be relevant to the people of the province who pay their bills and need to provide graduates with the skills to pay their own.

University of Manitoba student Hayden Sneesby, 22, argues the mandate can produce a seamless transition from university to the workforce.

“This could help students graduate with jobs and possibly more integrative payment plans,” Sneesby said. 

It is still unclear what this mandate will say, although, Opposition Leader Wab Kinew worries focus will be taken away from humanities and arts courses and placed more heavily on developing technical skill-based training. 

According to the National Post, the idea came from a consultant’s report in 2017 that said post-secondary grants could be tied to performance indicators at each institution.

The provincial government is currently the most significant funder of post-secondary institutions, a detail University of Winnipeg graduate Anna Cathcart said Pallister won’t let us forget. 

“I think it’s very paternalistic that Pallister wants to dictate what happens at the university level,” Cathcart, 21, said. 

According to the Canadian Journal of Higher Education, Canadian universities have been experiencing a declining level of independence and an increasing level of supervision from the province. 

Anna Cathcart prepares for her LSAT on December 11, 2019, at Canadian Mennonite University. Cathcart said bracing the cold is hard, but exams are harder./KARLEE BENEDIKTSON

Opposition leaders also expressed concern that this will interfere with the independence of universities and colleges.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont, who accused Pallister of wanting to control all Crown corporations directly, said the province already helps appoint universities’ board of governors.

As of recently, Ralph Eichler, the new Minister of Economic Development and Training, will be taking over post-secondary education and immigration from Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen, who now works solely on Kindergarten to Grade 12. 

Pallister said these changes will better align the province’s education and economic needs.