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Education

Upon returning to Alberta thousands of veterans took advantage of the Veteran’s Rehabilitation Act to obtain or upgrade their education.

Enrolment at the University of Alberta almost doubled from 2,679 in 1944 to 4,811 in the fall of 1945. This large influx of new students initially overwhelmed the institution, both in terms of qualified teachers and physical space for classes and residences. The University adapted as best it could, but classroom sizes increased substantively thereby temporarily detracting from the quality of the learning experience.

Facilities were expanded to accommodate the new students and other facilities, such as the nearby Garneau High School, were used until the construction or refurbishment of buildings on campus was completed. Times at which classes were offered were extended, commencing at 8:00 am, running through until 10:00 pm at night. Many institutions offered accelerated programs to enable veterans to complete their training as quickly as possible and find employment.

One of the reasons for the large number of new students was a relaxation of the strict entrance requirements (matriculation level grades). The decision was made to take into account their service to their country when considering applications. Most war veterans who enrolled did so to improve their lot in life. Many had gained valuable field experience in a given trade or occupation in the military and wished to continue with this kind of work in a civilian career.

In total, 54,000 veterans received financial support through the Veterans' Rehabilitation Act to upgrade their education. Those who successfully graduated from an accredited university, college or technical institute did not have to repay the funds. The Veterans' Rehabilitation Act was an ambitious and rewarding plan that allowed war veterans to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers who did much to build the national prosperity of the nation during the latter half of the 20th century.

Financial assistance was also made available to those seeking to resume and finish their studies and training courses that they had started prior to the war. In some cases, benefits were extended to those seeking to complete graduate level courses. The only stipulation of limitation on financial assistance was a requirement that veterans commence their studies within one year of being discharged.

Reference

Thomas, Lewis Gwynne. The University of Alberta in the War of 1939–45. Edmonton: University of Alberta, 1948.


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