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

Tuition costs more than cold hard cash

By in Opinions


Tuition at the University of Saskatchewan continues to increase and university students continue to take it on the chin — but what are we getting for all of this extra money we’re paying?

The short answer to this question is a whole bunch of nothing. If anything, we’re paying more money and getting less classes offered from professors who are already stretched thin. If I’m going to be paying more for the same services, professors should at least have to learn our names — just saying.

Since 2010, average tuition at the U of S has gone up a cumulative total of 17.3 per cent according to an article in the StarPhoenix on Mar. 11 — 5.2 per cent in the 2010-11 school year, 3.2 per cent in the 2011-12 school year, 4.4 per cent in the 2012-13 school year and 4.5 per cent for this past 2013-14 year.

For the 2014-15 budget and rates, tuition is set to go up an average of 4.5 per cent depending on the college. The only college that isn’t seeing an increase is the College of Dentistry, whose students already pay over $30,000 a year in tuition. Yikes.

The average U of S student will be paying over 20 per cent more for this next year of school than what they paid back in 2010 for the same services and programs — assuming their programs haven’t been reduced or cut altogether. We are not getting anything for this extra cash and this needs to change.

Our university is slowly and surely chipping away at the projected deficit in 2016 of $44.5 million dollars by raising tuition and cutting hundreds of jobs and programs. Wait, why do we all still go here?

What in hell has the U of S done for its students in the last decade that’s of benefit to us? Sure, we are able to get the degrees we pay for and we get a subsidized bus pass — which we still pay for — but what are the benefits of going to an institution that doesn’t seem to truly value its clientele?

Generally speaking, the U of S offers a service to students. In this case, that service is a higher education necessary to enter many jobs and careers. While I won’t dispute the notion that higher learning has intrinsic value in itself, I will say that going to university would be a royal waste of time if a student wasn’t hoping to better him or herself for job prospects at the end of it.

In any other walk of life, if you were to become dissatisfied with the service you were receiving, you’d take your business elsewhere.

While I won’t speak for other students, I highly suspect that I’m not alone in feeling that this institution isn’t fulfilling all of my needs — nor does it seem to be willing to give students an incentive to stick around.

Isn’t it surely time that U of S students protested in some way? Even within the entire TransformUs process, students and faculty have tried time and time again to have their voices heard in order to ignite a change to save this sinking ship before we all drown — and have we seen changes? No.

Attending Town Hall meetings this year and last was so frustrating in that a student or professor would bring forth a compelling and legitimate point, only to have the facilitator or administrator say something to the effect of “we will talk more about this,” or “we need to think more on that.” The implied translations of both phrases can be summarized as “thanks for speaking, but we’re still going to do whatever we want because we have the power.”

Speaking of those who have power, the U of S actually receives the vast majority of its operating budget from the Government of Saskatchewan. Maybe this is more of an issue with the Wall government than it is one that has to do solely with our institution. Since the Saskatchewan Party has been in control, we haven’t had the tuition freeze that the NDP government previously had in place when Lorne Calvert was in charge.

Let’s stand up to those in power and make some changes around here. It’s all fine and dandy to have our University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union executives speaking out against tuition increases — because that makes them look like they’re actually doing their jobs — but are their words doing anything to change the inevitable? Nope. It’s all about publicity.

I vote we stop talking and actually take some action. They did it in Quebec, so there’s no reason why we can’t do it here.

Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor

  • Michelle

    Excellent article. There is no concern for the students in all of this. At the Board of Governors’ meeting, administration looked on with contempt at all the people there voicing their concerns. They responded to the concerns with statements like you mentioned here: “We’re looking into it” “It’s a process” “etc etc etc”. Platitudes that actually never answered a single question that was posed to them. This is not transparency, like they claim, rather deflection. We deserve better.

  • cdsf

    Look up all the tax credits you get from the government to go to university. Also look up the graduate retention program. You don’t end up paying nearly as much as you’d think. For school alone, you might end up paying $5,000-10,000 after all of those benefits. It’s really not that bad.

    • CT

      Where are you getting those ridiculously low numbers from? You seem to be misinterpreting the extent of those benefits. They do not provide flat cash back. As with most tax credits, you only get a small percentage of the total credit. The government tosses these big numbers around, but once you do the math, you aren’t getting nearly so much as you expected. Furthermore, these benefits are only beneficial to those who secure good jobs after university. If you aren’t lucky enough to be one of those people, you get no benefit, because tax credits only pay if you have something to apply them to, yet you still have all the debt. I have been paying my student loans for 10 years, at about $800 per month. Granted, this includes all cost, not just tuition, but this still doesn’t account for your figure of only $5,000-10,000?

    • cdsf

      Students loans change it a bit as interest can take a big bite out of it. I’m not really sure what kind of interest rates you get on it. You’re also right that the credits benefit those with jobs, but I wouldn’t really argue you need good jobs to get it. If you make 30k a year anywhere in Saskatchewan you will get to use them. I think it’s an interesting idea to make them refundable.

      Here’s the math from my standpoint for a 4 year degree. I can completely get behind people who are doing more than a 4 year degree can be upset. That being said, I think the majority of students are doing a 3-5 year plan and it’s often hard to cater to the minority.

      Let’s assume you pay $6,000 a year in tuition. I think that’s about average for the U of S? Mine was slightly higher, but other colleges lower it a bit.

      $6,000 a year thus $24,000 total.

      Now, let’s look at the tax credits you are given. I’ll leave the textbook one out because that’s a whole different swindle.

      15% of all tuition. That is 15% of 24,000 = $3,600
      15% for education tax credit (15% of 400 x 32 months enrolled) = $1,920
      Assume $20,000 for the graduate retention program which is that max amount and you’re up to $20,000 + $1,920 + $3,600+ $500 (min. guaranteed entrance scholarship)
      Grand total in rebates is $26,020. Slightly more than what you paid in tuition in nominal dollars. If you use a discount rate, it’ll look worse for sure. I didn’t do that, but that’s where I get the $5,000 -$10,000 number for.

  • slh665

    The author irks me by trying to imply that post secondary institutions are there for something other than training for future jobs. That is exactly what they are there for. Not for finding your place in the world or other hippie dippie crap. So don’t try and make it about anything other than what it is. And while our tuition is expensive it is not nearly as bad as other provinces, and don’t even get me started on what they pay in the States. Finally when the NDP was in power our province was deeply in debt, now that Wall is in power our budget is balanced, so perhaps the tuition freeze was lifted for a reason other than to piss off whiny students.

    • MC

      You moron. Our province had balanced budgets with the NDP too. A large part of our still-present debt was from the years of Devine-Wall.

      It is nothing but a myth that Wall saved Saskatchewan’s economy. Empirical hard data shows that the boom begun before Wall was elected. In fact, more jobs were created during the Ndp’s last 6 years than during te saskparty’s first 6 years in power.

      The NDP were doing just fine cleaning up the economic mess Wall and his criminal Conservative buddies got us into during the 80s.

    • RDequier

      I’m sorry to say but that’s not the conception of Education that Universities were founded on. Job training is what institutions like SIAST are for, they are vocational schools. The enlightenment concept of education, upon which Universities were founded, is quite the opposite. Education is a process of intellectual enrichment that is supposed to benefit somebody’s whole life, not just their job. That this has been completely lost in most of our dialogue about University is a terrible sign of the Corporatization of our Universities. Education is not job training, it is a human right and should be free, not a commodity for the rich. If you think what they pay in the United States is absurd, then you should be concerned because that’s where we are headed. I recommend you read ‘Democracy and Education’ by John Dewey. This conception of education is not ‘hippie dippie crap,’ but rather a necessary condition to have an informed public that is able to make political decisions and control its own fate.

  • Dan

    I think it really comes down to a couple of things. Job prospects have declined with an undergraduate degree (not including some of the professional colleges) as the world has become more and more complex. If the undergrad degree was worth what you paid for it in job prospects, I think it’s fine to pay more for that. However, when you can go through a two year program at Siast and make as much money (or more depending on the career) as someone with a university degree, and have a better chance of getting a job, it really calls into question the value of a degree.

    For lack of a better metaphor, the university is a business. It is not a true learning institution and hasn’t been for years. Selling degrees to students has become the norm

    • cd

      Job prospects have declined because education has become more affordable meaning more and more people have degrees. That’s the funny thing. People complain about how university doesn’t even guarantee a good job anymore and how it should be cheaper because of the lack of value it creates. Well, the cheaper it gets the less distinguished it is meaning you have even less chance of a job. That’s not to say it doesn’t provide other value, but for strictly employment purposes that’s how it works.

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