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U of R students union calls on government to 'fund the future' of post-secondary education: Report

Saskatchewan university students are calling on the government to increase funding and lower tuition fees in a new report released by the University of Regina Students Union (URSU).

In the report, Fund the Future: The State of Saskatchewan’s Post-Secondary Sector, URSU notes that Saskatchewan students are paying Canada’s second-highest undergraduate tuition of $9,232 for the 2023-2024 academic year, compared to the Canadian average of $7,076.

According to newly released numbers by Statistics Canada, the province with the highest tuition is Nova Scotia, which is $9,575 for the 2023-2024 academic year.

The report, which was prepared for URSU by the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, compares Saskatchewan’s post-secondary sector to the rest of the country in relation to funding, tuition and fees, student financial assistance, as well as university spending on salaries.

In a media release, Tejas Patel, president of URSU, said provincial government funding for post-secondary education declined from 54 per cent to 50 per cent between 2010 and 2020.

The report said in order to replace the shrinking government funding, institutions across the country have increased tuition.

“The proportion of funding from tuition and fees increased from 14 percent to 22 percent during the same period,” he said.

In Saskatchewan, funding from tuition and fees rose from 14 per cent in 2010/11 to 22 per cent in 2019/20. (Photo source: URSU report)

The report also stated that the declining support through bursaries and scholarships also resulted in increasing student loans and debt.

Last week, the Saskatchewan NDP referenced the Statistics Canada tuition numbers, noting that since Premier Scott Moe took office in the 2018-2019 academic year, tuition costs for students in the province increased by 22.9 per cent.

“Students in Saskatchewan are literally paying more and getting less. This is a government that is hiking tuition while forcing institutions to make cuts to their staffing and programming,” said Jennifer Bowes, NDP MLA and Critic for Advance Education in a media release.

In an emailed response, the Ministry of Advanced Education said they appreciated receiving the report from URSU.

“We want to hear students’ voices, to inform policy and funding decisions. The Ministry of Advanced Education will take some time to review and consider this detailed information,” the statement read.

According to the statement, in 2023-24, the Government of Saskatchewan increased direct financial support for post-secondary students, and will provide over $112 million in supports through tax credits, grants, and scholarships.

“A number of Saskatchewan Student Aid programs are available to help cover tuition and living costs, including student loans, grants, scholarships, loan forgiveness and more,” the statement read.

“Graduates who live and work in Saskatchewan may also be eligible for the Graduate Retention Program, which provides a rebate of up to $20,000 of tuition fees.”

According to the report, Saskatchewan provides more funding to its post secondary institutions than all but two provinces: Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador. Top Stories

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