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

U of S facing budget cuts, smaller faculty

By in News

Associate News Editor

Students at the U of S can expect to pay more for less in upcoming years.
Print Tuition increased by three per cent between the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years as part of the university’s effort to meet budgetary needs. Other measures, such as not replacing professors who are retiring, will mean that students will receive fewer class offerings and larger class sizes for their extra money.

The worldwide economic downturn of the past year has forced the U of S, as with most educational institutions, to cut its expenditures. The university’s investments have returned less money than they would have in a better economic climate and benefactors, who have been likewise affected, have donated less.

Richard Florizone, the vice-president of finance and resources, explained that while the university is cutting its operating budget by $10 million, “it’s not like that’s a dollar-value decrease of that amount.

“It’s not $10 million less than we had last year,” he said. “It’s $10 million less than we would otherwise have had for this year.”

Florizone went on to say that this was a change of about three per cent of the university’s operating budget.

“(At) other universities you’re seeing much bigger adjustments,” he said. “Queens is seeing an adjustment of 10 per cent. The pain here is much less than at other universities.”

Warren Kirkland, University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union president, mentioned this as well.

“The U of S is extremely well-off, especially compared to Quebec,” he said.

Some universities in Quebec have found themselves hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, says Kirkland.

Because salaries and bonuses for employees take up an impressive 70 per cent of the university’s operating costs, much of the cost cutting will be seen in this area. Many professors and other employees who are soon to retire will not be replaced.

But Florizone stressed, “This doesn’t mean there won’t be any severances.”

Kirkland expressed confidence in the university’s handling of the budget changes.

“It’s the best of a worst situation,” he said. “The university went through the process admirably and they’re definitely looking out for the students’ interests.”

“It’s the best of a worst situation. The university went through the process admirably and they’re definitely looking out for the students’ interests.”
—Warren Kirkland
USSU President

Each college will be asked to cut its operating budget but the detailed plans of this are not yet known. Thus, while it is already apparent that there will be significant changes in the number of employees on campus, it is as yet unclear what else will change.

The USSU executive met with all the colleges in an effort to determine what would happen and how to dampen the effect on students.

The College of Arts and Science has received the largest monetary budget cut, at $1.95 million, though this is only four per cent of its total budget. Other colleges, such as dentistry, have been told to cut up to 10 per cent of their budgets.

Kirkland said that while he has seen concern from students, as one would expect in this situation, the university has “made every effort to ensure that students don’t see the effects.”

Despite this effort, students will see certain changes. For instance, most campus libraries will be shortening their hours. To counteract this change, the safe study hours will be extended in the new learning commons on the ground floor of the Murray library.

Blair Woynarski, a drama and English student, remains troubled by the fact that arts classes are likely to be cut because of staffing changes.

“It is a problem for me, trying to organize a class schedule,” he said. “Arts courses are usually at the bottom of the list for funding.”

Woynarski, as an upper-year student, is already struggling to get all of his required courses, some of which have consistently low enrolment. Some have been offered only every other year since before the budget cuts.
“There’s basically one person who teaches all the academic (drama) classes,” he added.

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