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 transformus.usask.ca with an appendix listing every academic program alphabetically by college.