Post-secondary education is crucial to our future success, yet we’ve made it more and more difficult for people to access the education they need from our universities, regional colleges and training institutes. We have the highest tuition fees in western Canada, which has led to a significant drop in enrolment numbers from people from lower-income households. Those who are able to attend must undertake massive levels of student debt to do so, meaning they spend their first years out of school struggling to dig themselves out of a hole made deeper by government inaction.
As a result of these pressures, students are experiencing higher levels of stress and mental health challenges. We need to make sure that students can access high-quality programs that they can afford and that they have the support they need to succeed.
When we invest in the province's technology, arts, and information sectors, we promote economic resilience, stability in government revenues, and quality of life for all who call Saskatchewan home. We all benefit from a more knowledgeable population that is better able to adapt to and participate in a changing world.
We can enjoy these benefits, but only if our government is a reliable partner of Saskatchewan's post-secondary institutions.
- Reverse the recent cuts to Saskatchewan's post-secondary institutions and then partner with these institutions to develop a new, stable cash flow arrangement that will allow tuition forecasting and prevent blind-sided cuts;
- Respect the academic autonomy of our educational institutions, including ending the partisan governmental appointment process to university boards of governors;
- Phase out the $40-million-per-year Graduate Retention Fund and invest that money in reducing tuition from the highest to the lowest in Western Canada;
- Increase the number and value of scholarships and bursaries available to post-secondary students at all institutions, with specific attention to increasing enrolment from members of economically disadvantaged and underrepresented groups;
- Work with post-secondary institutions to create more affordable housing for students, including students with families and young children;
- Develop a stable cash flow model for the College of Medicine to ensure both accreditation and its socially accountable role in meeting the health needs of the province in clinical service, advocacy, research and education are maintained;
- Increase availability of culturally appropriate education and employment training available in Indigenous communities, including reinstating the NORTEP teacher education program and establishing a stronger relationship and permanent agreement with the Gabriel Dumont Institute;
- Learn from the Indigenization initiative at the University of Saskatchewan and work with it and other Saskatchewan institutions to advance reconciliation efforts on and off campus and increase enrolment of First Nations and Métis students;
- Reduce the burden of student loan debt by restoring the tuition tax credit, and increasing the forgivable proportion of student loans for graduates who choose to stay in Saskatchewan.
We are building a healthy society when everyone who wants to pursue quality, accessible post-secondary education is able to do so. We all benefit from the efforts of post-secondary students, from the knowledge they gain and the services they provide. We can lead the country by investing to ensure that future generations can adapt and thrive within a rapidly changing world.