Budget woes create worry for education
author: ethan williams | contributor
With austerity comes cuts, how does education fare?
Saskatchewan’s recent dreary economic outlook has had an effect on many industries, but it appears that education will be one of the ministries that will take the brunt of the cuts. Education funding has already been seen belt-tightening, and many are worried it could happen again.
Vianne Timmons, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Regina, says that the potential cuts could have a large effect on the institution.
“It will reduce our flexibility this year. All of our units do long-term planning. They put money away each year for a project that they’re working on. For example, our football practice field needs new turf, so Kinesiology and Health Studies have been putting away money to do it. To have a sudden one-percent clawback means it puts all of those projects in jeopardy.”
The province already implemented cuts at both the U of R and University of Saskatchewan in November, but Timmons says a second round of financial restraints could be even worse.
“There would be more [cuts]. This time around we’re trying to really recover the money from one-time monies that units have put aside for different initiatives. We’re a very lean university. Every year we’ve had to increase revenue, find efficiencies, or lay off people. It’s getting harder and harder each year.”
The Carillon attempted to contact the Ministries of Education and Advanced Education; however, the ministers in charge were unavailable for comment on the issue. Both provided the following statement, reading in part:
“Ministry officials are in the annual process of preparing budget submissions for Cabinet consideration. The provincial budget will be tabled by the finance minister once the spring legislative session begins in March.”
Students are concerned that they could see reductions in both activities, and their education. Kelsey Jones is a U of R student and says that she’s worried about cuts to basic services.
“What I’d be worried about is if the university started lacking funds for programs in place to help students in need, for example the health and dental [plans], free counselling, and used books, which are all in place for students who may not be as financially [flexible].”
Jones also voiced concerns about changes to faculties that could happen.
“[I’m worried about] the possible cut down of funds and resources to faculties and the opportunities that the university has in place to really help students succeed.”
Zehra Rizvi is another U of R student who points to a major issue affecting Saskatchewan university campuses.
“I would be concerned about tuition costs going up, which would directly affect me as well as other university students.”
Timmons says that the U of R is currently in the bottom quarter of tuition costs, meaning that the school has one of the lowest tuition costs out of all Canadian English universities. She also says that administration will be committed to keeping tuition costs at bay. But, regardless of any changes that would affect the campus, Timmons has made one thing clear:
“We need to make sure our future leaders have every opportunity to get the quality education they deserve.”