Section 6

                 Key Findings and
Key Findings                                 ...
A Framework                                                           and more scholarships based on merit. There
university scholarships and bursaries over the
   expenses and special circumstances of
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  1. 1. Section 6 Key Findings and Recommendations Key Findings 6. Compared with other provinces, Saskatch- ewan has a smaller proportion of adults with 1. University tuition and fees in Saskatchewan a university degree. Despite this, enrolment are higher than what is reasonable and are at Saskatchewan universities continues to not affordable for many students and their decline. families. This discourages many youth and 7. A university education is a productive invest- older adults from attending university. ment for both the province and for indi­ 2. The costs of living away from home to attend viduals. High levels of tuition, increasing university are a significant barrier to access for living costs, and inadequate financial assist- a large number of students and their families ance mean that there has been a shift from in Saskatchewan. This is especially the case for public investment in university education to low­income and Aboriginal students as well as greater reliance on financing by students and older adults seeking lifelong learning oppor- their families. tunities. The analysis and findings in this report amplify 3. The financial assistance presently available is and support the key findings and recommen- not adequate to provide for equality of oppor- dations of the CCPA­SK report Improving Access tunity to attend university for all capable (Conway, 2004). Following its publication, the Saskatchewan people who desire a university provincial government took action in the form education. of freezing tuition at the 2004­2005 level and establishing the Post­Secondary Education 4. Too many Saskatchewan students are gradu­ Accessibility and Affordability Review. The Review ating from university with too much debt. found there were serious problems of accessibil- Since 2004, students are still amassing ity and affordability for Saskatchewan individuals increased debt loads even though tuition considering attending university; the seven key has been frozen. Increasing loan limits for findings of this report further substantiate more students will further increase student debt. public financial support for students. 5. Grants and bursaries based on financial The tuition freeze was extended though 2008­ needs of students are insufficient to ensure 2009, but the provincial government and the equitable access to a university education in universities are planning to increase tuition levels the province. Benefits from tax credits are this year. From the findings of this reappraisal of only available to graduates and do not assist student finances, it is inappropriate to end the students at the time they must pay their bills. tuition freeze at the present time. 62 • CCPA – Saskatchewan Office A Reappraisal of University Access and Affordability, March 2009
  2. 2. A Framework and more scholarships based on merit. There should be improved and expanded pro- for Further Action grams to meet the full range of student living The following recommendations for further expenses. Implementation of the following action on the part of the provincial and federal recommendations would improve the access- governments and the universities emerge from ibility and affordability of Saskatchewan the analysis and findings of this report. universities. 1. No increase in tuition and fees. The prov- a. Grants for low- and middle-income incial government and the universities students. The provincial government should should make a commitment that they will establish a student grant program that paral- not increase tuition levels and set a goal of lels the new federal Canada Student Grants reducing tuition for all students. program (which will provide up to $250 per month for low­income students and $100 2. Reduce institutional barriers of access and a month for middle­income students). The make a university education affordable for provincial grant program should at least all. The provincial and federal governments, match the federal amounts and grants should and the universities, should recognize and be sufficient so tuition fees are not a barrier to reduce barriers of access for low­income and enrolment. Aboriginal youth, those living distant from universities, and adults who would participate b. Improved and expanded assistance to in lifelong learning at university. Aboriginal students. The findings of this report support the following recommenda- 3. More upfront financial assistance and tions from the University of Regina (2008b) reduced reliance on tax credits. Financial with respect to post­secondary education assistance should take into account financial funding: need and barriers to attending university. There should be an improved and expanded • The immediate elimination of the 2 per set of programs to provide funding to those cent annual cap on budget increases; who need financial assistance to meet the cost • Funding of the Post­Secondary Student of attending university. This means reduced Support Program (PSSSP) sufficient to reliance on tax credits and rebates so that ensure that every eligible First Nations assistance is available to students at the time and Inuit learner obtains adequate fund- they must meet bill payments. ing based on actual costs for tuition, travel 4. Reduce reliance on student loans. The and living expenses, including child care, federal and provincial governments should special needs, and special shelter; make a commitment to reduce the reliance of • Special funding to address the existing Saskatchewan and Canadian students on stu- backlog of deferred eligible students; dent loans as the primary source of financial assistance. For those who currently have large • The extension of the PSSSP to other Abori­ student debts, debt relief programs should be ginal post­secondary students (Métis and expanded. Non­Status First Nations). 5. Construct financial assistance programs c. Financial assistance increases to meet the to provide equitable access. This involves special needs of single parents. Revisions both more assistance based on financial need to assistance must recognize current living A Reappraisal of University Access and Affordability, March 2009 CCPA – Saskatchewan Office • 63
  3. 3. university scholarships and bursaries over the expenses and special circumstances of next decade. single parents. This means replacing student loans and tax credits with grants to support 6. Increase university participation. Govern- increased part­time and full­time university ments and universities should work to increase participation by single parents. the proportion of high school graduates who attend university. There should be a commit- d. Greater support to lifelong learners. In ment to changing those parts of the institu- association with the universities and the tional culture of universities that make some public, Saskatchewan Advanced Education, feel unwelcome and placing greater empha- Employment and Labour should establish a sis on undergraduate teaching and enhancing task force to identify institutional, financial, undergraduate programs. and personal barriers to lifelong learning and improve access to university for Saskatch- 7. Public investment in university education. ewan individuals who have been away from There should be a renewed commitment to school for several years. Among the issues public investment in university education that should be addressed are reducing finan- at the undergraduate level, with improved cial and institutional barriers to lifelong learn- equality of access for all. One means of imple- ing and examining the effect of distance and menting this commitment is to maintain responsibilities for supporting families on the freeze on tuition and fees until tuition university participation. Aims of the study accounts for no more than what it was prior should include finding ways to assist adults to the 1990s, approximately fifteen per cent to obtain access to part­time and full­time of university revenues. Such a policy would learning at the university level and recognize be directed toward expanding public invest- prior learning. Additional funding to improve ment in undergraduate university education, adult access should be seen as a public invest- shifting the costs away from the individual to ment in credit and non­credit lifelong learn- Saskatchewan government general revenues, ing; lifelong learning programs should not so university funding is provided in a manner be structured so they must recover full costs similar to the provision of health care and pri- of delivery or continue to evolve into profit mary and secondary education in Saskatch- centres for the universities. ewan and Canada. e. Continue to increase scholarships. In this The above recommendations are workable — decade, Saskatchewan universities have made some involve immediate action (R1, R3­5), others progress in increasing scholarships, bursaries, are medium­ to longer­term policy and program and prizes. This positive development should commitments on the part of governments, uni- be continued, with the universities estab­ versities, and individuals (R2, R6, R7). Implemen- lishing a long­term scholarship/bursary pro- tation of these recommendations would improve gram building on gains made to date. One university accessibility and affordability and goal could be a doubling in the real value of would benefit the people of the province. 64 • CCPA – Saskatchewan Office A Reappraisal of University Access and Affordability, March 2009