Over the last few weeks, and especially in last week’s “Money Issue” of the Sheaf, significant disgruntlement has been directed toward administrators at the University of Saskatchewan.
Excluding the short-sighted decision to exclude students from the “TransformUS” task forces, administrators at the U of S have done their best to deal with the Saskatchewan Party’s intentional decision to defund post-secondary education in Saskatchewan.
The Sask. Party constantly refers to Saskatchewan as “the best place in Canada” and “the strongest economy in the country,” but it has refused to show leadership and adequately fund post-secondary education for the people of Saskatchewan.
During consultations for the provincial budget, the university told the Sask. Party that it would need a funding increase of 5.8 per cent in order to cover rising costs, maintain its current diversity of program offerings, and provide quality levels of service for students. Instead of granting a sustainable increase to the university, the Sask. Party chose to give an increase of only 2.1 per cent.
This paltry increase is inadequate to cover even the cost of inflation, and is certainly insufficient to cover the rising legacy costs that the university is facing as the value of previously-negotiated contracts increase over time. The Sask. Party’s wrong-headed approach to funding post-secondary institutions is the chief cause of the university’s funding woes.
How can the Sask. Party claim to be moving Saskatchewan forward while they are purposely and deliberately underfunding post-secondary education? If Saskatchewan is going to continue as a strong and growing province it will need a highly skilled and well-educated work force ready to compete in today’s knowledge-based economy.
The Sask. Party’s mismanagement has resulted in the $44-million deficit facing the university. Administrators are being forced to make these tough decisions exclusively because of the Sask. Party’s reckless defunding program. Attempts to blame administrators for the university’s current fiscal situation are misplaced and only serve to draw attention away from the Sask. Party’s failure to invest in Saskatchewan’s students.
We deserve better.
Mitchell Bonokoski is the Saskatchewan Young New Democrats’ vice-president of administration and a fifth-year U of S music education student.
Photo: David Stobbe