Author: elisabeth sahlmueller | Contributor
Lack of programs, classes and popularity for trades may be reasons
There are many benefits for people living in Saskatchewan to stay and pursue a post-secondary education here. Individuals can remain close to family and friends while receiving a $500 scholarship from the provincial government each school year. However, despite those advantages, the U of R has seen less Regina and area students enrolling over the past five years. This fall semester, there are 14,576 students taking classes; almost 2000 of those students are from over sixty different countries and 1100 are from other Canadian provinces. Some may think this is because of declining graduation rates at Regina Public High Schools. However, this narrative ignores the results of the Regina Catholic High Schools, and I think there are more reasons why less local students are coming to the University of Regina.
One of the reasons I enjoy taking history classes at the U of R is because there are a large number of classes about a variety of topics. Back in high school, we had the choice between History or Native studies. Even though the University offers many different courses and programs including some of the newer ones in Creative Technologies and Clinical Nursing, there are some areas that the school does not cover. Some of these programs are Video Game Design, Library Sciences and Archaeology, just to name a few. Technology has become increasingly infused within our industries, so it’s no surprise that people are wanting a career in disciplines more related with technology. Students interested in programs which aren’t offered at the U of R have no choice, but to go to the University of Saskatchewan or out of province.
One problem with some of the courses offered at the University of Regina is that there may not be enough classes in a preferred subject area to take. As a result, students are unable to finish their degree and have to leave to complete it at a different school. This unfortunately is very common. Just recently, I’ve talked to a few students in Engineering and Anthropology who are considering finishing up their degrees at another school that offers more courses. Transferring to another university will likely be problematic because not all credits will count towards the student’s degree. Some students who know they will have to switch schools at some point, may likely decide to go straight there instead of beginning at the U of R.
Another reason why there has been a decrease in enrolment of local students has to do with the increasing popularity of working in the trades. Many people attend Saskatchewan Polytechnic (formally known as SIAST) for more hands-on specialized training and finish their degree in a shorter amount of time. Many industrial jobs/careers are paying high wages to their workers, and training for these jobs guarantees that the individual will get a job afterwards. University, on the other hand, is different because graduating with a degree does not necessarily mean that the student will get a job when they finish. Competition is fierce and sometimes it feels like people need more than one degree in order to be hired and survive.
With over 14,000 students currently enrolled at the U of R, I don’t think there is anything to worry about. If the university wants to increase the number of local students, they should consider making a few improvement to the programs they offer. Have more classes in certain departments to ensure students will come here, stay and never consider going somewhere else to complete their degree. No matter where someone goes to school (or even if they don’t), I believe that people should follow a career that they are passionate about. This University should ensure they serve as a platform for people to do so.