2005 News ReleasesMarch 2, 2005
Bill 1 to secure Albertans' access to the future
Legislation plans for $4.5 billion in new and expanded post-secondary endowments and scholarships
Edmonton... A new $3-billion endowment and $1.5-billion expansion of current endowments and scholarships are proposed in new Advanced Education and Technology legislation. Bill 1, the Access to the Future Act, was tabled March 2 by Premier Ralph Klein in the Legislature. It includes the following planned investments from future unbudgeted surpluses:
- A new $3-billion Access to the Future endowment: Once fully funded, it will generate an estimated income of $135 million annually for advancing post-secondary opportunities in Alberta. The endowment will be part of the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Income from the endowment will flow to a new Access to the Future Fund.
- A $1-billion expansion to the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund: The estimated $35 million in additional annual revenue from the planned expansion will go toward addressing what comes out of a planned review of the affordability of post-secondary education, including more scholarships to help Alberta students pay for post-secondary studies.
- A planned $500-million expansion to the Ingenuity Fund: This will build on the fund's activities in accelerating innovation in the province.
"Albertans have told us now that the debt is gone, they want part of future surpluses directed to higher learning in the province. That's exactly what we're going to do," said Klein. "The annual income created from these investments will go directly toward building and securing a world-class Advanced Education and Technology system. This reflects our government's ongoing and clear commitment to future generations."
Bill 1 will also lay the groundwork for the introduction of a common post-secondary application process as well as a simpler process for getting student financial assistance, improved transferability and recognition of learning experiences, increased participation for groups underrepresented in the post-secondary system, and mechanisms to measure the quality of the system.
"With Bill 1, we're securing the future for post-secondary education in Alberta, and the province's continued social and economic success," said Advanced Education and Technology Minister Dave Hancock. "This proposed legislation aligns with the government's 20-year strategic plan so we can achieve a quality system, ensure a place for every qualified Albertan and inspire them to reach their full potential."
The Access to the Future Fund will encourage private sector donations that enhance and sustain access to affordable and high-quality post-secondary learning opportunities. An example of this will be the establishment of a Centre for Chinese Studies at the University of Alberta. The fund will also support the development of the Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library, a digital library that will allow post-secondary students and faculty across the province to access the digitized resources and knowledge currently held in the individual libraries of post-secondary institutions. This leading-edge initiative is centered on the work already underway at the University of Calgary.
The Ingenuity Fund was created in 2000 to support basic and applied research in the province. The $500-million addition will double the size of the fund.
"Our government's additional investment in the Ingenuity Fund will build on the fund's record of success and forge stronger links between education, research and industry," said Victor Doerksen, Minister of Innovation and Science. "To be globally competitive, Alberta needs highly skilled people, and this funding will help to ensure that we develop and retain the brightest and the best."
Access to the Future Fund
The Access to the Future Fund will be set up to receive the income from an endowment within the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. If there are any unbudgeted surpluses in future years, a portion of that surplus will go into this new endowment until it grows to a maximum of $3 billion. The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund will pay the Access to the Future Fund 4.5 per cent of what is in the endowment.
The Minister of Advanced Education and Technology will then make decisions about how to allocate grants from the Access to the Future Fund. The fund is intended to provide seed money for innovations in the post-secondary system as well as matching grants to stimulate private, industry, corporate and other public contributions that establish and support: improved learner outcomes, faculty, staff and graduate student development, attraction and retention, knowledge and technology transfer, and affordability.
An "Access Advisory Council" will be created to provide strategic advice on the fund's objectives, operation, and reporting. The council would be appointed and would include representatives of post-secondary institutions, students and the general public.
Centre for Chinese Studies
The Access to the Future Fund will provide matching contributions to help create a new Centre for Chinese Studies at the University of Alberta. This landmark institute will promote greater understanding of the culture, language and history of one of the world's largest economies and a country with which Alberta has long enjoyed a special relationship. Specific details on the project are currently under development by the University of Alberta and a detailed announcement will be made later this year.
Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library
The Lois Hole Campus Alberta Digital Library is a leading-edge initiative centered on the work already underway at the University of Calgary. This province-wide initiative will, at full implementation, allow all post-secondary students and faculty, wherever they are located in the province, access to the resources and knowledge currently held in the individual libraries of Alberta's technical institutes, colleges or universities. The library will be governed by The Alberta Library, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, and Athabasca University.
This initiative will be a digital gathering place for students, faculty and the community to access a wealth of knowledge. It will also provide a mechanism for sharing of print collections. Building on the opportunities created by the SuperNet and post-secondary collaborations already in place, the Digital Library will be part of a province-wide system that, with SuperNet, will give Alberta capabilities for e-learning, e-health and e-commerce across the province that are second to none.
The wide-ranging access to the vast array of information made available by this innovation will make Alberta one of the most information-rich provinces in North America. Through the technologically sophisticated learning facilities of Alberta's universities, the Digital Library will support satellite points to connect people with life-long learning.
Initial costs for the Digital Library are estimated at $30 million over three years. The project will include the acquisition of digital information products, implementation of infrastructure to deliver information to the entire post-secondary system, and the development of four regional Digitization Centres.
Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund
The Access to the Future Act will expand the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund by $1 billion from future unbudgeted surpluses to ensure Alberta's ability to address what comes out of the affordability review, providing additional estimated revenue of $35 million annually.
Originally endowed at $100 million, the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund was designed to encourage excellence by recognizing outstanding achievement. The scholarship fund currently administers over 40 different scholarships and will award $23 million in scholarships in 2004-2005. Since 1981, the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund has awarded in excess of $280 million to over 180,000 Albertans.
Alberta Ingenuity Fund
The $500-million expansion to the Alberta Ingenuity Fund will build on the fund's activities in accelerating innovation in the province.
Alberta Heritage Foundation for Science and Engineering Research - better known as the Alberta Ingenuity Fund - was established in 2000 with an endowment of $500 million. The mandate of the Fund is to nurture the discovery of new knowledge and encourage its application to benefit Albertans. This support of world-class research will also advance science and engineering internationally.
The Fund provides various grants and awards in areas of both basic and applied research. Programs are developed in consultation with the International Science and Engineering Advisory Council, made up of scholars and experts recognized worldwide for their achievements, and the Alberta research community.
Alberta Heritage Trust Savings Fund
For 28 years the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund has been providing benefits for Albertans. The investment income from the Fund has been allocated to Albertans' priorities, including health care, education, and debt elimination. As of December 31, 2004, the Fund's value was $12.2 billion. Since its creation in 1976 the Heritage Fund has provided $27 billion in direct benefits to the province.
The current mission of the Fund is to provide prudent stewardship of the savings from Alberta's non-renewable resources by providing the greatest financial returns on those savings for current and future generations of Albertans. As Alberta moves to the future, with no debt, we can look to some new ways to build those savings-and the benefits from them-for current and future generations. The Access to the Future component creates a framework for a new way the Fund will continue to benefit Albertans today and tomorrow.