Provincial budget cuts cause high tuition and crumbling campuses
Saskatchewan’s undergraduate university students pay the second-highest tuition in the country to make up for government underfunding of schools.
Numbers released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday show Saskatchewan’s undergraduate university students pay an average of $6,885 in tuition each year. In just four years, Saskatchewan’s undergraduate tuition has risen more than 20 per cent.
Alberta’s average tuition is more than $1,000 less than Saskatchewan’s, while Manitoba’s average is $3,000 cheaper.
“Young people in our province should be able to count on a great, affordable post-secondary education and lots of opportunities, but this government simply doesn't prioritize post-secondary education, and students and their families are paying the price for that, literally,” said NDP Advanced Education critic Warren McCall. “After a decade of boom, how is it that Saskatchewan students pay the second-highest tuition in all of Canada? With the way they're treating post-secondary education, the Sask. Party is being short-sighted and they’re short-changing our province’s future."
The Sask. Party government cut overall funding for Advanced Education 4.9 per cent this year, and the graduate retention program was slashed without warning in March.
Adding insult to injury, a new investigative report shows the University of Regina has $307 million in necessary repairs it can’t afford to do, and shows the university has warned the government about things like roofs leaking into classrooms and in danger of collapse.
“This government has had nearly a decade of unprecedented revenues, but instead of using that money to invest in what matters most to Saskatchewan families — including post-secondary education — we've seen the Sask. Party waste far too much money on their misplaced priorities,” said McCall. “Now we have students trying to learn while water drips into buckets around them and a once-beautiful campus with bags and hoses hanging all over to collect water from crumbling roofs. Preventative maintenance is a lot cheaper than replacing things that weren’t properly maintained – and guess who pays for that negligence?”
In March, McCall questioned Minister Kevin Doherty about leaking roofs on campus during a committee session of the Legislative Assembly. Doherty was highly dismissive of the problem, and even claimed he didn’t know of the desperate needs. “I can’t sit here and tell you whether that’s enough money to do everything they want to do PMR,” Doherty said of the budget for universities. “I suspect it’s not, but we don’t receive the entire ask of the university with respect to — at least I’m not aware of it — with respect to what . . . You know, if money fell from heaven and they could fix everything that they could possibly fix on campus from a PMR perspective, how much would that cost?”