St. Albert resident and student at Campus Saint-Jean, Taylor Good, said the school had serious concerns about the quality of French education in Alberta last year, but those concerns were alleviated last week with a funding announcement.
“There was an agreement in principle a couple of months ago, but nothing was really crystal clear or official up until last Friday, actually, in the auditorium there,” said Good, president for L'Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean, as he pointed towards the campus.
On June 24, MP for Edmonton Centre and Associate Minister of Finance, along with MLA for Calgary Bow and Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides announced more than $13.3 million in funding over three years for the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean, the main post-secondary institution for Francophones in western Canada.
The federal government is investing $10.3 million over three years as a part of the Canada-Alberta Agreement on Minority Language Education and Second-Language Instruction.
The province has allocated $2.5 million over three years. The University of Alberta is investing $500,000.
Last year the campus had concerns about underfunding.
The campus had to drop about 20 per cent of its courses during the pandemic “just to be able to function and operate on a day-to-day basis,” said Good.
Good said the whole community in the area and the Francophone community at large pushed for more government funding as funding issues for the campus was a concern for the greater French community.
Campus Saint-Jean is the only Francophone post-secondary institution in Alberta and western Canada. It was founded in 1908 and became affiliated with the University of Alberta in 1963. The campus has served the Francophone community for more than 50 years.
Both the federal and provincial governments are hoping the investment brings in new students, more services for students, and also increases visibility for the campus.
According to a government press release, the investment will allow for additional hires,; increase the number of French programs and courses; improve infrastructure for the university — including better WIFI and technical equipment; improve student services; and increase visibility for the campus through things such as virtual tours and visibility campaigns.
Good said the province reiterated the importance of letting each faculty spend the funds as it needs.
“So whatever funds that they were providing, it was really autonomous to that executive team, that directive team, however, they saw fit was kind of how it's supposed to be spent,” he said.
Good said he doesn’t think there are strings attached the federal funding either.
“It's really as [campus] admin see fit, as they're the ones that are able to best address the needs of students and kind of infrastructural needs,” he said.
A portion of the funding, said Good, will be allocated toward increasing the course load, “whether that be bringing back the 20 per cent that we saw cut, or heading in that direction and introducing new courses towards maybe different programs. I do know that from that framework, there is supposed to be money put aside towards seeing increases,” he said.
Good said the education program, which he is a part of, is the most popular at the university.
One thing he would personally like to see revitalized is the arts program at the campus.
“All in all, I'm very excited. It's great to see all the partners come together and see the importance of CSG, not only for Alberta, but really Canada and international,” he said.