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University of Saskatchewan funding slashed by 5.6% in provincial budget

The University of Saskatchewan is facing its biggest cut in history as the Saskatchewan government slashes funding by 5.6 per cent in the 2017-18 provincial budget. File / Global News

The University of Saskatchewan is facing a 5.6 per cent funding cut in the 2017-18 provincial budget.

The government says cuts to the two universities in the province will save the province more than $30 million.

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It’s the biggest cut in the university’s history.

“We’ve been preparing for a difficult budget for some time, but this is a troubling set of circumstances,” Dr. Michael Atkinson, the university’s interim provost, said.

“It’s an unprecedented reduction for this university so it’s a sober time here at the University of Saskatchewan.”

U of S president Peter Stoicheff said the requirement for the university to provide $20 million from its base budget to support the College of Medicine adds to the difficulties the Saskatoon campus faces.

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Prior to 2015 the $20 million came from the province, but since then it has been absent.

This has put a major strain on the faculty as it tries to implement changes to the program after getting off probation in 2013. Without the funding, the College of Medicine worries it won’t make the cut this fall when accreditation comes back.

“If we’re investing the money well on our way to fixing things and then the bottom falls out of the money again then and creditors will say wait a second, if you weren’t succeeding with the money, if it goes away you obviously won’t be succeeding again,” Dr. Preston Smith, dean of the College of Medicine, said.

According to Smith, the $20 million makes up 25 per cent of the college’s provincial funding.

Meanwhile, despite his concerns over the cut, Stoicheff said the university is committed to serving the people of the province.

“The people of this province deserve to have one of Canada’s top universities, and we will not be deterred by this budget; we are determined, as a community, that it will neither define us nor diminish us,” Stoicheff said in a statement.

“As we have always done during our 110-year history, we will find a way to provide what our province needs.”

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Stoicheff said they will do their best to provide a quality education that is affordable.

“This will be damaging, but we will manage the potential impacts this has on our campus community – our students, faculty and staff,” Stoicheff said.

“We will need time to figure this out, but as we always have, we will find a way to stay the course.”

Stoicheff added that the university will seek out alternative sources of funding to ensure its long-term financial sustainability.

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