University of Regina sign

The president of URSU believes a tuition hike is likely. (CBC)

Nathan Sgrazzutti, president of the University of Regina Students' Union, says additional funding for a graduates retention incentive is nice but improved funding for post-secondary education would be even better.

Sgrazzutti was providing reaction to the provincial budget which was unveiled Wednesday.

Among the measures directed at universities, the province has budgeted an additional $6 million to cover an incentive program that rewards graduates who stay in Saskatchewan. The program, which provides the incentive at income tax time, is capped at a maximum benefit of $20,000 over seven years for a graduate who stays.

Sgrazzutti said there is an expectation that the universities, which did not get all of the increase in funding they sought, may still increase their budgets and pay for that with increased tuition fees.

"There's definitely a culture that's been raised across Canada where universities set their budgets, make their request to government, and if they don't get it from them, they'll levy it from students," Sgrazzutti said.

Saskatchewan's minister for advanced education, Rob Norris, said the province is providing support for current students in addition to the graduate retention incentive.

"We need to make sure that people are succeeding in their studies and then can succeed in their careers here in Saskatchewan," Norris said. "That is one of our key goals. But we also want to make sure we can also offer an accessible and affordable education as well."

According to information provided to CBC, there are currently 55,000 students registered in the retention program. Whether all of them will be eligible for the tax benefit depends on where they are when they start to file tax returns after they have ended their studies.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Saskatchewan is the second most expensive location for undergraduate tuition.

With files from CBC's Tori Gillis