skpic rob norris

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris says the NDP is jumping the gun with its criticisms of the TransformUS review. (CBC)

A proposed revamp of the University of Saskatchewan was being called a "disaster" at the Saskatchewan Legislature Tuesday.

In a question to the government, NDP Opposition leader Cam Broten quoted a U of S historian who said a review known as "TransformUS" is turning into "the biggest disaster since the Great Depression."

Broten said the feedback he's been getting is that the review is "incredibly flawed" and could lead to "disastrous outcomes" for both the Saskatoon-based university and the province.

The major criticism is that through cost-cutting, the university is shrinking and stands to lose programs that make it unique, he said.

"The greatest concerns are about the long-term ramifications to the University of Saskatchewan 
when colleges are gutted, when programs are ended … and when there is long-term damage being done," Broten said.

He noted another prominent academic, Eric Howe, had raised concerns that if the elite programs are eliminated, the U of S could turn into "Meewasin Valley Community College". 

He rattled off a number of other concerns he said have been raised by staff and students, including:

  • it's not an open and transparent process.
  • students are not being properly involved.
  • the review is biased against smaller programs, specialized programs, and aboriginal programs.
  • deans are not free to express their views and express concerns.

"How can this government not be concerned about what is happening through TransformUS at our province's largest university?" Broten asked. 

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris accused Broten of "belittling" the university and jumping the gun on how the TransformUS review will turn out.

"It's quite simply too early to determine what will be included in TransformUS because that final allotment has not taken place yet," Norris said. "We will let the university do its business."