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 January 7, 2000 Volume 7, Number 8


About OCN

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from HRD

Letters to
the Editor




Hearings set on making higher ed. affordable

The Saskatchewan government announced in mid-December it is launching a round of public meetings across the province from Jan. 10-28, asking for advice in making post-secondary education more affordable for students, their families and taxpayers.

Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training Minister Glenn Hagel and Education Minister Jim Melenchuk will lead the meetings, billed by the province as people’s "chance to let the government know their thoughts on easing the financial burdens of paying for an education."

Hagel said, "It is time to extend the frontier of accessible public education."

"High-quality and affordable post-secondary education is essential for the development of our economy and our society as well as for personal fulfilment," he said.

"Making post-secondary education more accessible is in all our interests," Melenchuk added.

There will be 15 public meetings, starting with LaRonge Jan. 10 and ending with Moose Jaw Jan. 28. They include Jan. 12 in Prince Albert and Jan. 18 in Saskatoon.

Comments are also invited through written submissions by Jan. 21 to the Dept. of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training, or by e-mail.

People can follow the consultations on website: www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/P/access where there is the terms of reference for the consultations and background information on student financial assistance. Summaries of the public meetings will be posted on the website and feedback forms will also be available there.

According to government information, joint federal-provincial programs provided $121 million to Saskatchewan post-secondary students this year – $84 million in loans and $37 million in bursaries, grants and awards.

More than 16,000 Saskatchewan post-secondary students got financial assistance in 1998-99, with nearly 8,500 being Saskatchewan universities.

Figures show that of the Saskatchewan university students who started repaying their student loans in 1997-98, the average debt was $15,731. For Sask. Institute of Applied Science and Technology the average student debt was $10,526.

Statistics Canada figures show the 1999-2000 university tuition in Canada averaged $3,379 and the Saskatchewan tuition was in seventh place among the provinces, at $3,164. Tuitions ranged from $4,113 in Nova Scotia to $2,387 in Quebec.

Background papers to the provincial public meetings suggests some options to increasing financial accessibility to education might include:

  • Enhancing students’ tax credits or deductions.

  • Limiting tuition fees.

  • Free first-year tuition.

  • $1,000 tuition relief.

  • Increasing access to student loans.

  • Higher loan limits.

  • Increasing bursaries.

  • Increasing student employment opportunities.

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