Tuition

This morning we announced tuition rates and fees for 2014-15. With the university currently looking at ways to decrease costs and increase revenue we know that there will be questions about how tuition rates are set and whether tuition and fees are used to balance the university budget. We want to clarify that we have not, and will not, set tuition rates to balance our books. Our students, and providing students with a high quality and affordable education, continue to be our priority.

For the university, tuition helps to fund the enhancement of the student experience. For students and their parents, tuition is just one piece of the investment they are making in getting a high quality university education. The cost of books, supplies, student fees, transportation, housing and other expenses also result in financial obligations for students and their families. We know our students are making a significant financial investment in their future by choosing the University of Saskatchewan and that is why, in October 2009, our Board of Governors adopted a tuition strategy based on three principles. These principles guide our thinking and processes when rates are set annually. The principles are described below.

Comparability means we look at our peer universities offering similar programs to ensure our tuition rates compare to these institutions. Currently, all our programs with the exception of dentistry are below the median tuition rates of our peers. Tuition rates in Arts and Science, where 40% of our students are enrolled, are projected to be 11% below the median in 2014-15.

Affordability and accessibility means we look at the total cost for a student to attend the U of S, as well as looking at funding available to help support students, such as scholarships and bursaries. We also look at the potential lifetime earnings for grads of specific programs. We want to ensure that we support our students through scholarships; through distributed learning opportunities so that they can access our programs in local communities; and that we provide supports to enable students to participate in the post-secondary education we provide.

Enabling quality recognizes our commitment to providing high quality programs for our students, offering opportunities to enhance the student experience and ensuring we attract and retain outstanding faculty to teach our students.

Given that tuition rates remain below the median of peer programs across Canada, we believe we offer good value for the investment students and parents are making in the U of S. The university’s commitment to students is to continue to provide value for your investment by offering high quality programs that earn high levels of student satisfaction.

We have already received some questions and comments on today’s announcement and invite you to join in the discussion by commenting below.

Brett and Greg

35 thoughts on “Tuition

  1. I’m all for everyone getting an education but the fact that this money is going to scholarships and bursaries really bothers me, pretty much I’m going to apply and someone is going to tell me if I am qualified to have my money back. I’m sorry that doesn’t make sense. Yes, people should be allowed to receive a good quality education but I don’t think it’s fair to ask fellow students to go into debt for you. I understand that in oder to maintain quality we have to pay for it but how many students are going to have to work more and more so that they can afford their education? How many students will not be able to take advantage of the various programs offered to help students because they are too busy trying to not go into debt? As for raising tuition because it’s below the median thats just ludicrous, the lower the tuition rates the more people who will want to attend the university, in that sense I do not see how they are helping anything. Perhaps the University President should lead by example and sacrifice some of her $400,000 salary.

  2. I would like someone to explain how you think “comparability” is a reason for tuition increase? I can not comprehend this at all. How should I know whether comparable schools are raising their tuition but actually increasing the students’ educational experience while we just continue to raise tuition because “its what everyone else is doing”. Engineering has experience a large increase in tuition previously while I’ve been attending U of S, and I have not yet experienced an increase in education. I ask you this… how is my experience improving when the professors, assignments, labs, exams have not changed in the past 5 years but my tuition spikes every year? Our college doesnt even have enough licenses for programs we use in the labs for all the students registered. I want to know WHY my tuition is raising. Where is the money from the increase going? You might as well have increased our tuition and said nothing about it which is essentially what you’ve just done.

  3. I am a third year undergrad student. Financial increases are tough but I am big enough to take a step back and understand that people in positions who raise these prices do not do it just for fun! Rates in Saskatchewan are lower in all aspects of life: tuition, housing costs, gas costs (for the most part), insurance, taxes. For the program that I am in at U of S, tuition alone is ~$6,000 for the year…for the exact same program at UBC the tuition is ~$7,800. At U of C, the tuition for the same program is ~$7,700. With my schooling experience at UBC and U of S, I would definitely pay more at U of S to get better services and professors! I have paid my way through these 3 years with small help of a student loan as well so I know how hard it is to make that money to pay for tuition and live!

    “Tuition and fees revenue helps the university to fund priorities including enhancing student services to ensure quality educational experiences, providing scholarships and bursaries to increase accessibility and affordability for students, and recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty.” (http://www.usask.ca/finances/updates/index.php)

    Raise my tuition on the grounds that you provide better services, and WAY better faculty and learning experiences! If they do not do that then there is a problem. Also, how is comparability not important to students?! You are at one university out of 15. Your options are to be at a university that is in the top 5 or the bottom 5 rated BY students. You obviously would want to be in the top 5, so comparability is important!

    I do agree though with many comments here. The next step for management should be to spell out exactly what this rise in tuition is going to give us.

    • I don’t know what university you’re going to, but it can’t be the U of S. This tuition hike isn’t going to professors or services. They’ve been dramatically cutting staff and services since the new prezzie came into term. That’s not going to change with these tuition hikes. All that’s going to change is how much the top dogs in administration go home with at the end of the day.

      • It is true that the university has reduced its administrative and support staff workforce. This difficult work was done with as much sensitivity as possible to ensure priority services to students are maintained and potentially enhanced in the future. I would appreciate your thoughts on what services have been reduced in the recent past that diminish the student experience, as this would be helpful information.

        Despite some limited service reductions, there were some major investments in the past year, including the approval and beginning of construction of the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre expected to open in Fall 2014; additional resources for graduate student awards; and investment in the academic innovation initiatives at http://www.usask.ca/ipa/pcip/academic%20innovation.php. In the past year E-wing of health sciences opened as well, which is an exciting development for students. This was supported by the recent major investment the university has made in the past few years in ancillary services for students, including doubling of residences with the September 2013 opening of the graduate residence and the renewal of Marquis Hall culinary services.

        In the next few years we will be considering additional investments to enhance the student experience and the priority for investment in student academic and support services has been reflected in the task force recommendations.

      • I’m not sure if you’re aware, but you’re using a kind of manipulative tactic of cherry-picking data that’s supportive of your stance when it’s both less relevant and less informative…

        The statistics that are being talked about are comparisons to the other 14 research-intensive medical-doctoral universities. In Saskatchewan, 2/3 of undergrads are at a U15 university. In many of those other provinces, this ratio is much smaller. Province-to-province comparisons like the one you linked aren’t helpful, because it puts huge student groups like those in Quebec and Ontario right next to Saskatchewan (when there’s a ton of universities in Quebec and Ontario with various levels of increase in their tuition), and this is even further exacerbated by the large proportion of undergrads in SK that are at a U15 institution experiencing tuition increases.

        In addition, I think for most people it’s the size of the tuition that matters, rather than the one year rate of increase. (Granted, there’s a pattern of continuous increases across Canada that’s worth paying attention to.)

        • The statistics is well chosen as it shows that the people of Saskatchewan have to pay dearly for getting a university education in their own province. And this is only because university administrators want to put us into the U15 category, without caring whether we really deliver the appropriate quality. What do you think the people of Saskatchewan want more, a good and affordable university education or a university with its heads in the clouds and a U15 dream it can only barely realize?

          TransformUS, a crude process that most other U15 universities stay away from, is about to destroy the diversity of academic offerings and thus the traditionally high quality of education at the UofS, at ever higher costs for the students. This is not what Saskatchewan needs.

          As to statistics, our university administration has its own statisticians with their own “understanding” of this science. The true experts on campus are not asked, and they shake their heads about what transpires about that “understanding”.

  4. If the U of S is still raising the tuition up and worry about financial obligation to the students then why are the textbooks still expensive to buy? How come the U of S President makes around the hundred thousand range without taking a pay cut while cutting services to students?

    If the U of S really carried about its students then I expect that the first move should be lowering tuition instead of raising it up and have the President, the Vice-President, and etc take a cut in their cheques. Perhaps, they might start to actually emphasize with the students.

    • Don’t know where you got your information, but a slight correction. The president doesn’t make anywhere near $100,000. She makes 4 times that. The lowest paid vp is paid $250,000 anually, ffs. Books are expensive due to the publishers, nothing the university can really do, but aside from that, it makes no sense to cut most programs, lay off tonnes of staff, shut down the college of medicine, AND raise tuition.

  5. The only one of those three reasons which has ANY credence is ensuring quality. We need to have quality teachers, staff and facilities. However comparability is not something that benefits us. Raising your prices to comparable institutions is simply a money grab. (Content removed due to inappropriate/insulting language as per terms of use disclaimer) Affordability and accessibility is just hilarious because if that really mattered, “comparability” would not even come into play. Aside from paying more for my education (which may or may not actually be applicable in the real world job market), my favorite thing is having the reasons for the price hike, glossed over (or better, just a straight forward money grab).

  6. Something is seriously wrong with this situation. They are giving very general reasons for the tuition hike without any concrete evidence and lot of bull shit. I want to see the proposal they put up to the board of governors and the concrete evidence they use in it. Looking how UofS has handled the School of Medicine situation, I dont really trust the words coming from our so called management.

  7. Nowhere in this blog does it actually say why tuition rates increased. The phrase “enhancement of the student experience” is meaningless because it is not defined. If the administration wants to settle down the student body they should explain where the funds are actually going, not just state that ,”well at least you guys don’t have it as bad as U of T or other higher-ranking universities”. Stop with this PR nonsense and be at least a bit transparent. While you may have been able to hide before, you’re in the spotlight now.

  8. Bottom line — I am frustrated. Comparability? “Look everyone, you don’t have it as bad off as those guys! So just suck it up and deal with it!” I’m sorry but that doesn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. “We believe we offer good value for the investment students and parents are making in the U of S.” Let’s agree to disagree.

  9. Hi Brett and Greg,

    Thanks for using this forum. I’m a law student on my way out the door so I’m not personally troubled by the tuition bump this time around. Maybe that’s loosened my tongue. I was hoping you would level with me on your thoughts about the systemic increases of tuition in Canada in the last umpteen years and why students should still bother with the post-secondary system at all? It’s an educational monopoly, no doubt, and borrowing levels are enticing with prime rates staying low, granted, but call me a dreamer because I’m still kind of hoping that students band together across the continent and refuse to pay tuition one of these years. The first principle of “comparability” is noble from a certain point of view, and Manitoba sure looks like an outlier, but when considered with the history of undergrad tuition rates (source: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/interactives/map-tuition-fees/) it’s difficult to see that jump from $1500 (1991) to $6200 being tied to inflation or anything BUT “comparability.” Granted as well it’s become less of a governmental investment in years of late, but should students, in principle, really be asked to shoulder the kind of cost load tuition has come to place on them? In short, you’ve apparently done a great job of staying under the national curve for tuition this time around and only about 3.5% above inflation, per estimates. The logical follow-up for a grizzled old guy like me then is what are you doing, can you do, and should you do about the systemic increase of tuition in Canada? It’s another American piece but I like these stats: American students owe more than $1.08 trillion in debt and it is continually increasing (http://time.com/10577/student-loans-are-ruining-your-life-now-theyre-ruining-the-economy-too/). You mention above that parents and families should be expected to bear costs – I don’t completely disagree, but there are some unique arguments being made these days that this philosophy backfires as tuition rises because wealthier parents are better able to take advantage of the bursary and aid mechanisms (see for example, http://hechingerreport.org/content/data-show-poorer-families-bearing-brunt-college-price-hikes_14999/). There is much evidence that the status quo, which is to keep pitching students on tuition hikes (thats what a raise used to be called, back in 2003, I think) of more than double the CPI, isn’t a good long term plan for many people but university VPs & managers. Coincidently, undergrad programs have about a 4 or 5 year “institutional” memory and this doesn’t always lead to a vocal reaction. I’ve conflated some issues so let me parse them out:
    1. What is the U of S’s position on the historical impact of tuition, nationwide?
    2. Is this a problem that the U of S sees as one it can play a better role in?
    3. Does hiking tuition for bursaries get distributed in useful ways?
    I’m genuinely curious and hoping to get some debate going amongst my newer classmates over the hike. – Thanks again for using technology to be accessible Brett and Greg.
    To all of you wanting to go into Law – tuition has gone up ~40% cumulatively in my time here. Beware, you may be paying the dentist’s rate before you know it.

    • Calen,

      I may be able to provide some context for this discussion. The trend we are seeing in North America is that the cost of post-secondary education is borne relatively more over time by student tuition relative to government grants. In some Canadian universities, grant funding represents 50% or less of the university’s operating revenue with tuition being as high as 50%. This is less the case presently at the University of Saskatchewan where our grant is still the much larger share of our revenue and tuition represents about 25% of our operating budget revenue. One could argue that this trend across Canada has not been purposeful and the relationship between tuition increases and meeting increasing costs is not directly related in universities. It is simply that tuition covers more of the costs as it has been increasing at a faster rate than government grants.

      The reasons for the trend of a reduced government grant ratio relative to tuition in Canadian university operating funding may be twofold:

      i) University operating costs have been increasing faster and at often double the rate of inflation. Hence, regular base annual increases in government operating grants to universities may not be keeping pace with increasing costs. This is why we have focussed so much on cost reduction in our budget adjustment effort. Universities must understand the factors behind this cost growth and address these to become financially sustainable in the future.

      ii) Increasing government debt, rather than a reduced priority on post-secondary education, may be the second factor behind government grants not keeping pace with the overall revenue growth. Based on a study by KPMG at kpmg.com/government, public debt in developed countries has increased from 46% of GDP in 2007 to 78% of GDP in 2013. Other than Saskatchewan, Canadian provincial governments have not been immune to this pattern of increased debt. It may simply be that governments cannot afford to fund universities and their cost growth at past levels. Supporting this increased government debt pushes out the funding of other priorities, including health and education. In the future, the financial pressures could even worsen, resulting in reduced support of government services in health, education, and other areas, particularly if interest rates increase.

      Two items to note are that we do not set tuition based on our government grant increase or to balance our budget and we are also looking at ways we can provide students with a multi-year projection of tuition rates, allowing them to better plan the total cost of their education.

  10. I’m pretty sure the U of S could do plenty to make our education experience better, without having to hike tuition. Maybe the U of S could stop building unnecessary buildings and expanding so much. Also, maybe cutting the budget when it comes to the salaries of Administrative staff could help, considering the mean salary of U of S employees is around $114,000 annually, and yet the lowest paid vice president is paid around $250,000, over double the average. Perhaps, if the president is paid the $400,000 they’re currently getting, they shouldn’t also have a $12,000 credit for a car, and free reign to use taxi and limousine services on the student’s dime at night. Or perhaps, such a lavish salary isn’t necessary, considering it’s almost ten times the average yearly income of people living and working in Saskatchewan. I’m not saying that we need to strip all of the president’s money and make her work for free, I’m just asking the U of S be reasonable. I think a cap of $250,000 annually for all presidential staff, while not solving all problems, would certainly help. Perhaps dramatically cutting the staff and support of most programs isn’t helping to save money, but in fact is COSTING the university money, driving essential staff and many prospective students elsewhere. I believe the president, as well as the rest of the administrative staff, has much to answer for. The student body is unhappy with the management of the university. Ask anyone. The university needs to get it’s priorities straight. It makes no sense that we are this desperate for money, despite the numerous private contracts that are feeding millions to the school every year. It is time for an independent audit of all university funds, as well as the numerous connected entities the university has.

    Sources:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/infographic-university-of-saskatchewan-salaries-1.1174815
    http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/professor-pay-ranked-from-highest-to-lowest/
    And numerous Anonymous sources

  11. I just started at the university of sask in January 2014. I transferred from University of Calgary mid-year because I thought University of Saskatchewan would offer me a better environment to learn in as well as affordable education. Right now, Im highly regretting my decision. Not only was the tuition higher, but every monday, wednesday, and friday I hear in my first class about how transform us is ruining the school for the students and faculty as one of my professor’s is highly opinionated on the subject. Frankly Im concerned about my future education here as I have a hard enough time affording school right now let alone in the future. I should have stayed in Calgary where the university budget wasn’t the students responsibility and people didn’t try to push “innovative” ideas that disguised the true intentions on the faculty and students.

  12. Funny, when my international student tuition went up by 50% a couple years ago (in the middle of the academic year, mind you) I emailed CGSR for an explanation. I was told that the increase was meant to “enhance my graduate student experience.” When I asked them to define what that meant specifically, I received no response. Perhaps that general blanket term can be defined better now that ever since then, the tuition is going up, up, up…?

    I’m still waiting for my enhanced experience, by the way.

    • Agreed, my enhanced experience doesn’t seem to be happening either. Six years in at this university and overall it’s the same experience, if not worse.

  13. I know when I want to have a better experience, and want to make education more affordable, I raise the price I want to pay, because paying more means I have more money in my pocket, and that the math and science I learn becomes more true. It’s easy economy science, you want to learn arts and sciences (which can be readily and freely found on the internet) then you need to pay more because more money equals correct art and science and less money equals incorrect art and science. But hey, at least it’s not McGill expensive, because I can be apart of the U15 with 11% less tuition then the rest (because that makes me feel sooo much better).

    • I would like you to explain your reasoning behind some of this. Why do you say that the more you pay makes what you find more correct? I understand that, to a point, paying in makes your experience better, but at a certain point, one I believe the university has reached, throwing more money at it does not make it better. The reason you pay more at most universities is because they’re more run for profit. Ivy League schools, and their Canadian equivalents, don’t make you pay more because they’re more correct, but because they have name and reputation behind them. I don’t want to pay more, because in my eyes, the University of Saskatchewan is performing a sub-par job. They’re letting off staff left and right, hurting the education of the students, cutting programs like it’s going out of style, and building more and more empty facilities that can’t be properly run or maintained with the skeleton crew they call a faculty. There is no way I could support this tuition hike unless of course, this was an Ivy League. Look around, this place can be pretty in the summer, but it is nowhere close to an Ivy League school.

    • Much of what you wrote doesn’t make sense, both grammatically and in general. Also, if you’re French, McGill is cheaper.

      Not to mention the fact that TAships at the U of S are some of the lowest paid in Canada.

      Try rationalizing your ‘argument’ to an international Masters student here who must survive on an inadequate scholarship with the housing market spiralling up and out of control. Someone who can’t work off campus without a permit, someone who can’t bring their family to this country because of the inadequate pay/scholarship they are receiving while their tuition inflates to ‘enhance their experience.’

  14. Where do the median rates come from? My research has indicated that rates in Saskatchewan are higher on average when compared to comparable universities. We can’t compare the U of S to top tier universities and say hey look we are lower!

  15. Affordability and accessibility is becoming a thing of the past for me for university education. I came in with the assumption that tuition rates would stay relatively stable throughout my education (4 year degree), however, they continue to rise past what I can afford. I work to put myself through school and although I’ve applied for many scholarships, I do not fit the ‘criteria’ for most of them. It would be fair to let students know when they apply just how much their tuition rates will increase over the span of their education, thus they can make an informed decision to enrol at the U of S or look for more affordable education elsewhere.

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