The Saskatchewan Party’s “Transformation” of Post-Secondary Education
Budget 2017 has little to offer students, faculty or staff in Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions. The Budget implemented a five percent ($25 million) across the board cut to post-secondary education, which come on top of reductions over the past three years, despite increased enrollment. Over the past three years provincial funding to universities and their affiliated colleges has been slashed from $489 million to $450 million, or by 8 percent.
Below are how the cuts are affecting higher learning in the province.
University of Saskatchewan
In addition to the 5 percent across the board cut ($19.1 million), the University of Saskatchewan was required to spend an additional $20 million from its so-called “base” budget to the College of Medicine. In previous years that $20 million was provided by the province, which was discontinued in 2015. The requirement to transfer an additional $20 million to the College of Medicine raises the cut at the University of Saskatchewan to 5.6 percent.
In response to the provincial cuts, the University of Saskatchewan has introduced its own austerity plans, which include:
- Reduction of funding to its colleges and academic programs by four percent, or $8.7 million.
- Reduction of 2.9 percent to support programs, or $3.5 million.
Some of the programs affected include:
- Agriculture and Bioresources 11 percent.
- Engineering cut 9.6 percent.
- Dentistry cut 6.2 percent.
- Edwards’ School of Business cut 4.6 percent
- Nursing cut 4.5 percent.
- Arts and Science 3.3 percent.
- Pharmacy and Nutrition 3.2 percent.
In addition to these cuts, faculty and staff are expected to take a 3.5 percent wage cut. Combined, these cuts will lead to larger classroom sizes and less grading support. Over the long-term it is difficult to see how these cuts will not have negative implications for student learning. Meanwhile students will be expected to pay an additional 2.3 percent increase in tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year.
University of Regina
Like the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina received a 5 percent across the board cut, resulting in $6.6 million less from its core operating fund. This cut came in addition to a one percent claw back of funds in December 2016. While the University of Regina has yet to produce their detailed response to the cuts, President Vianne Timmons has stated that there will be positions lost, services will be reduced and that the university will have to raise tuition.
First Nations University
First Nations University has also been cut by 5 percent, which will result in a similar fiscal squeeze.
Colleges and Technical Institutes
Saskatchewan’s technical institutes saw their funding decrease 3.8%, to $150 million from $156 million. Colleges were also cut, receiving $27.3 million, down from $28.8 million. At Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the immediate implications of the cut have been the layoff of 23 positions, resulting in a loss of 18.9 full-time equivalent positions.
What does this mean for students?
Students can expect to pay significantly more for post-secondary education. In addition to raising tuition levels, the tax credits for tuition and education costs of post-secondary students will be eliminated 1 July 2017. Scholarship funding has been reduced to $12.5 million from $14.3 million. The government has also lowered student aid funding from $32.5 million to $26.2 million, a reduction of more than $6 million. The Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings will also be eliminated 1 January 2018.
Groups working on these issues
Students Mobilizing Against the Cuts
A group in Regina taking on the fight against the budget, specifically focused on cuts to universities.