08/19/2013 04:47 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 04:48 EDT

University Of Alberta Proposes Cuts To 20 Arts Majors


The University of Alberta plans to axe twenty Arts programs with low enrollment - a move that is being heavily criticized by many as a blow to both the school and community.

Dean Lesley Cormack of the Faculty of Arts informed staff at the University of Alberta via memo that numerous programs should be suspended, each of which has had 10 or fewer students enrolled as majors since Fall 2005.

"I want us to be able to offer new programs that students might now be interested in and it’s very hard to do that if we never close old programs,” Cormack told The Edmonton Sun.

NDP's Advanced Education critic Rachel Notley, says the cuts are another disappointment by the Alberta government.

“This government has broken their promise to invest in the quality of education that young people receive in this province,” said Notley.

“These cuts will have a major impact on whether our young people want to stay here to go to school, and whether our universities are able to offer the highest quality of instruction," she added.

However, Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk told CBC News that Cormack's actions "very courageous," and that more schools should take similar measures.

Cormack said the decision to cut programs is "good management" and in the future she would like to see more attention paid to how courses perform.

“We need to be constantly checking in to see whether the programs we offer are current and useful to students," Cormack told CBC.

The director of the university's Ukrainian Folklore studies, one of the programs being cut, says the small program creates an important connection with the Ukrainian community in Alberta and allows people to explore its heritage.

“I think there is a real value in connecting university life with the community life,” Andriy Nahachewsky told the CBC.

Nahachewsky told the Calgary Herald that with Ukrainian folklore and language majors eliminated, professors are quickly working on an undergraduate certificate in general folklore.

"We’re going to focus on practical, meaningful, marketable skills, and folklore has an awful lot of those. So we’re actually pretty optimistic that we can find a silver lining from these dark clouds.”

Tymothy Jaddock, president of the U of A’s Ukrainian Students’ Society, told Metro Edmonton cutting the Ukrainian programs will have an very real affect on the community.

“When they start cutting programs it really, really hurts that carrying over of culture from generation to generation,” he said.

The university faced $56 million in cuts after the Alberta government slashed $147 million funding to all post-secondary institutions in its budget this year.

The university also offered a voluntary severance program to staff earlier this month to further help balance the budget.

The president of the university, Indira Samarasekera, called the cuts a "very serious threat to our quality."

Metro Edmonton posted the following PDF of Cormack's memo, which outlines the majors in trouble:

Memorandum From Dean of Arts 16aug2013

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