University of Saskatchewan students ask to be spared in provincial budget

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University of Saskatchewan students ask to be spared in provincial budget
WATCH: As Saskatchewan’s leaders try to address a $1.2 billion deficit, students are asking to be spared. A rally at the University of Saskatchewan is calling for a stable funding formula. – Mar 15, 2017

Students at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have asked to be spared from funding cuts in the upcoming provincial budget.

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU) launched a campaign this week called “Usask Matters” to ask the province to support post-secondary students.

READ MORE: University of Saskatchewan raises tuition by roughly 2.3 per cent

“A lot of students, always, will say they want lower tuition,” said USSU president Kehan Fu.

“But I think the real stories that we’re highlighting today are the consequences, perhaps, if the university didn’t have enough funding,” Fu said.

The USSU has issued three recommendations:

  • that the province of Saskatchewan commit to minimum annual funding increases by the projected rate of the Saskatchewan Consumer Price Index;
  • that U of S tuition increases do not exceed the projected annual rate of the annual Saskatchewan Consumer Price Index; and
  • that the U of S immediately implement a system by which students can project the full costs of specific degrees on a yearly basis.
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Third-year political science student Deena Kapacila gave an emotional speech at the USSU’s rally on Wednesday.

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Her mother lost her job when Kapacila was in her first year of studies, forcing her to work three jobs, while taking a full course load.

“Wages aren’t going up at the same rate tuition is and it’s tough to the point where you have to work three jobs as a student,” Kapacila said.

READ MORE: U of S student president hopes to make governance more accessible

The consumer price index in Saskatchewan increased 1.6 per cent between January 2016 and January 2017.

In the 2015-16 budget, the Ministry of Advanced Education provided the U of S with $342,484,833 in combined operating and capital funding, according to a ministry official.

Funding for the university declined by just over $6.8 million in the 2016-17 budget.

The province won’t be releasing any details about future post-secondary funding before the next budget, according to Bronwyn Eyre, Saskatchewan’s minister of advanced education.

“Everyone’s concerned of course and they have that right, but I think that the budget will see as fair a resolution as possible,” Eyre said.

The university welcomes the call to action and the request for the provincial government to support post-secondary students, according to a statement from Michael Atkinson, interim provost and vice-president academic at the U of S.

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“Support from the province for our post-secondary institutions goes a long way to meeting our shared goals of a high quality and accessible university education,” Atkinson said.

The Saskatchewan provincial budget is scheduled to be released on March 22.

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