The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

TransformUS reports released, academic programs need restructuring

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The TransformUS recommendations for academic programs at the University of Saskatchewan were released to the campus community on the morning of Dec. 9.

Students, staff and faculty have been waiting for the results of program prioritization since January, wherein every academic program and support service is ranked as a candidate for increased or reduced funding, to remain as is, be reconfigured or phased out.

Provost and Vice-President Academic Brett Fairbairn assured students at a Nov. 28 University Students’ Council meeting that the TransformUS taskforce reports are only guidelines and do not dictate the future of academic programs and support services.

“One of the most important messages is that what’s in the taskforce reports will only be recommendations,” he said at the USC meeting.

The taskforces have created five classifications for programs depending on their consistency with university priorities and their academic contributions.

Academic programs that fall in quintile one will be candidates for enhanced funding as indicated by evidence that further resources will aid them in contributing to the university’s academic goals. Accounting for three per cent of all academic programs, quintile one has the least with a total of 16 programs.

Programs that are well-aligned with university priorities fall into quintile two and will retain their current funding. This is the largest quintile, with 143 programs receiving an allocation of 34 per cent of the U of S operating budget funds used for academic programming.

Because of the university’s financial state, the 115 programs in quintile three are candidates for reduced funding and may be subject to further budget adjustments as the U of S reduces it’s forecasted deficit of $44.5 million for 2016.

Academic programs in need of reconfiguration for efficiency and effectiveness stray from the university’s priorities and may be merged with other programs are classified in quintile four. As the weakest parts of a program are cut while retaining the strengths, these changes may be positive or negative. There are 107 academic programs that fall into this category.

Academic quintile five is reserved for programs that have been deemed unstable and therefore are not sustainable for the university to continue offering. Of the 479 programs surveyed, 98 of them may be candidates for phasing out.

The College of Medicine has five fields of study that have all of their programs falling in quintile five, with biochemistry and biotechnology, microbiology and immunology, biotechnology, biomolecular structure studies and rheumatology all recommended to be phased out

Hit equally hard, the College of Arts and Science also has five fields of study in the fifth quintile: Biology and biotechnology, palaeobiology, religion and culture, bioinformatics and classical, medieval and renaissance studies.

The colleges of Agriculture and Bioresources, Engineering and Kinesiology each have one field of study recommended for phasing out: Agricultural biology, environmental engineering and physical education studies.

Individual interdisciplinary graduate programs in the College of Graduate Studies and Research all received a ranking in quintile five.

The Report of the Academic Program Transformation Task Force is available online at with an appendix listing every academic program alphabetically by college.

  • Lindsey

    I don’t see how some of those quintile 5 programs can be phased out. A university that doesn’t offer biology or biochemistry?! My program had required classes in biochem and microbiology. Maybe they are just getting rid of the majors, but will keeps some of the classes?

    • Guest

      I would recommend that you attend one of the town hall meetings that will be held in January. If you question is not answered in a presentation, you will be more than able to ask a question during the Q&As that follow.

    • Leslie Paul

      I don’t know how many questions are going to be answered at the town hall meetings when they are only 1 hour long.

    • marshmallow peep

      According to the task force report the College of Medicine has five departments that have one or more programs in quintile five–none of these fields have all their programs in quintile five like the article kind of says. As an example, the Microbiology & Immunology BSc 4 year, BSc 4 year honours, MSc and PhD programs are all in quintile 3 (retain with potentially reduced resources), but the Biotechnology, Microbiology and Immunology 4 year and 4 year honours degrees are recommended to be phased out. So my understanding is if these recommendations all got implemented tomorrow you could still get a micro degree, just not a biotech & micro degree anymore :)

  • 1233

    It would be nice to see someone recommend our university president and other senior admins take a pay cut. They got us into this mess in the first place,yet continue to make exorbitant salaries with perks and golden parachutes when they leave.

  • guest

    I guessed CMRS would be on the bottom but it doesn’t help no one knows its exists really, i had to find it my self none of the u of s people that came to my high school even knew it was a program. its hard to get interest if its invisible to even the staff.

  • Jeremiah

    Where is the common person’s voice in all of this. If a student speaks, they are seen as naive and without credibility. If people speak to their boss, they are seen as raising problems, not solutions. If they go above their immediate supervisor, they are seen as undermining authority If they comment on the blog, they risk looking stupid by being discredited by whoever is in charge of these things. All risk losing their job because the whole process is about money, money money. With most of the money being spent on human resources, cutting money equates to cutting jobs. So no one wants to speak or they will be either ridiculed, put in their place, or be subject to the first cut when the employment guillotine is wheeled out in May. Watch carefully – the only people who are speaking with any common sense and in a non-defensive manner are alumni, former faculty, and outsiders who won’t be affected. People need a voice. After all, we hear over and over how we receive the highest level of public funding of any university in Canada, but our over-paid, over staffed administration has effectively muzzled any advice from anyone but themselves. Only by opening our ears to all voices will we find common sense.

  • Jeremiah

    And…download the TransformUS reports, and look at the salary increases of the executive branches. Subtract 2011 from 2010, divide by 2010, and you will see the annual increase. The salary increase of executives, the upper echelon at the end of the bowl, is usually at a minimum 10%, and often up to 25% increase. These salary increases are unheard of anywhere in the real world. Compare this to CUPE employees, who don’t even have an agreement in place because the almighty leader is on leave, or ASPA, who gets 2% per year.

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