The provincial budget will hit U of R students hard
Article: Alec Salloum – News Editor
The provincial budget, released March 19, has detailed what the future holds for education in the coming year. In terms of the U of R, a future of belt tightening and penny pinching is being faced. Despite the budget being balanced, in fact a $71 million surplus was declared, the university was again snubbed in its proposed increase to operating funds. The budget stated that “a $12 million increase in operating funds” would be implemented, translating to “an average two percent increase” for the university.
The problem arises in that university asked for a four percent increase to their operating funds. This has been a consistent trend, as the university has not received its desired funding in recent memory. Outgoing URSU President Nathan Sgrazzutti expressed such sentiment stating, “the U of R has done three years of three percent across the board cuts, those are horizontal cuts, and some of our faculties are at their limits.”
Sgrazzutti went on to say the two per cent is not what the U of R needed.
“[We] needed a four percent increase to their operating budget in order to continue offering the same classes, programs, and functionalities that it did this year.”
Considering that the arts and culture program was cut this year, this shouldn’t be hard to replicate.
U of R President Vianne Timmons has emphasized austerity in the coming year. “The two percent is going to be a challenge; we’re going to have to find efficiencies,” said Timmons. Unfortunately, these efficiencies manifest as fewer professors and increased tuition.
In a Global News interview, Timmons stated, “I’ve taken the opportunity over the last four years to take every position freed up when someone leaves or retires as an opportunity to look at efficiencies.” She goes on to say, “We have not filled a lot of positions and we’ll continue to do that.”
However, in response to these vacancies and the recent budget, Timmons said, “what we’ll do is look at every single position, and some of those have been filled. What we do is scrutinize carefully the impact of not filling it … and also look at it in terms of how much money we have in the administration.”
It remains to be seen what actually happens, but if the administration is bracing for austerity in response to not receiving their proposed budget, it seems likely these vacancies will remain as ‘efficiencies.’
With a nearly 20 per cent increase in the student population, fewer programs are to be met with an increase to tuitions this coming year.
“One of my goals is to keep tuition low but that is a real challenge,” said Timmons in response to this, emphasizing that university costs in Saskatchewan are among the lowest in Canada.
Despite this, an increase is still looming for U of R students. Recently elected URSU president Devon Peters will have only a week from being elected until he is put in front of the University Board of Governors to argue for lower tuitions.
Pragmatically speaking, the U of R is moving towards another year of paying more for less. Tuition continues to rise, vacancies remain, and programs have been cut.