Saskatoon

U of S staff, faculty likely hardest hit by provincial budget cuts in long term: Provost

Provincial budget cuts to University of Saskatchewan funding will likely hit staffing and faculty hardest in the long term, according to interim provost Michael Atkinson.

Interim provost Michael Atkinson says university will try other cost-cutting measures before layoffs

The University of Saskatchewan has revealed its plan to deal with cuts to its base funding in the provincial budget. (CBC)

Provincial budget cuts to University of Saskatchewan funding will likely hit staffing and faculty hardest in the long term, according to interim provost Michael Atkinson.   

In its latest budget, released on March 22, the Saskatchewan government cut university base funding by five per cent, or about $30.1 million for post-secondary schools overall. 

On Wednesday, the U of S revealed its plan to cut costs, saying college and school allocations would be cut by about five per cent.

"It'll probably hit, eventually, in terms of staff and even faculty because that's where the bulk of our costs are, but that's not where we will go first to look for savings," said Atkinson.

Some of the colleges could probably handle the burden a little bit easier than others.- U of S interim provost Michael Atkinson

"If we're eventually obliged to do these things we'll have to do them because the institution deserves a sustainable future, but there are a lot of things for us to do."

He said the university would look first at improving efficiency in other areas.

Its plan also includes an 11 per cent reduction for the college of agriculture and bioresources. 

Cuts within 'tolerable limits'

There was some variation in the impact to different colleges but the university tried to keep cuts "within tolerable limits," Atkinson said.

"Some of our colleges have more surplus on hand than others, some of them are receiving funds year over year that they still have on hand," he said.

"We looked at that and we wanted to make a bit of an adjustment to allow for the fact that some of the colleges could probably handle the burden a little bit easier than others."

Atkinson said the student body was unlikely to notice any difference in programming in the short term, adding that the university would take measures to ensure the cuts did not impact student services. 

Also on Wednesday, the U of S Graduate Students' Association expressed  what it called "deep" concerns about the provincial budget cuts, saying they could jeopardize the quality, affordability and accessibility of advanced education in Saskatchewan.

"The elimination of tax credits for education, the cut in scholarship funding and the suspension of the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings will further impoverish students," said association president Ziad Ghaith.

The U of S cost-reduction measures will also include cuts of more than five per cent to utilities, library acquisitions and pension payments.

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