The University of Regina was recently ranked fourth in a Maclean’s magazine article listing the “18 Most Expensive Universities to study in Canada for Canadians living away from home.” The University of Saskatchewan also made the most expensive list coming in at number 10. This means the two Saskatchewan universities are in the top 10 of the most expensive universities in Canada![1] These rankings put access to post-secondary education in the province at risk. Furthermore, students are concerned that the overall quality of education is being negatively impacted by the current administrative structure and government underfunding. This is why URSU is calling on the University of Regina and the Provincial Government to put in place a tuition freeze and create a real plan to make education affordable and accessible for all students.In 2008, after the last tuition freeze was lifted, the province was the sixth most expensive place to study in Canada.[2] If there should be another increase this year, the province is poised to challenge Ontario and Nova Scotia as the most expensive provinces in Canada to get a post secondary education.[3] Frankly, as far as education is concerned, risking cost will have grave consequences for our province’s social and economic wellbeing. The government’s deliberate choice to cut funding to post secondary institutions leaving students to be victims of increasing tuition has created a series of negative effects for students studying in the province.

The effects of underfunding post secondary education are far reaching and have both short term and long term negative consequences. A growing number of students are being forced to take on increasing debt each year. The research on the effects of this type of debt have shown they impact important aspects of one’s life such as career choices, home ownership, health, finance, retirement, and having children.[4] All these negative consequences of high student debt work to undermine the fundamentals of the economy, which relies heavily on human capital.

Apart from the long term consequences of tuition increases, there are also immediate negative consequences that are impacting students at this very moment. There has been growing concern about students’ mental health and some of those concerns are directly tied to the financial stresses that students are faced with today. In recent years both the government and the university have had to put an increasing amount of resource and focus towards student mental health. It is time to not just treat the symptom, but to invest more in students so that they can have some financial relief and reduce one of the main stress factors in their lives.

To try and keep up with the increasing rates of tuition, which is often above the rate of inflation, students are now working two or three part time jobs, not in summer, but throughout the entire year as they take full time or part time classes. Students are working more hours to pay for school than ever, and still can’t afford to pay for tuition without going into debt. Another consequence of students working so many hours is that they don’t have enough time to study and so they are only getting a superficial knowledge of the subjects, which leaves them unprepared to fully adopt to the challenges of the workplace.

These are just some of the reasons why URSU is calling on the Government and the University Administration to put in place a tuition freeze now, and work on a plan of action to ensure that post secondary education becomes affordable and accessible to all. We are currently the most expensive province for post secondary education in Western Canada[5], yet our neighbours in Alberta have acknowledged the necessity for accessible and affordable education for their economic and communal prosperity[6].

Having an educated population is an asset, not an expense!

Please sign the petition to demand they FREEZE TUITION NOW!

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