Stehr says survey shows deficiencies at U of S
This year's drop in its ranking in the Maclean's annual survey of Canadian universities is further evidence that while the U of S charges "the national norm for tuition, students are not seeing national-level services," according to the president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union (USSU).
Craig Stehr said the other medical/doctoral universities to which the U of S is compared in the magazine survey "are exactly who they (U of S administrators) are looking at to determine the national norm for tuition. And, if the University chooses to set national norm tuition rates, then it has to be prepared to accept its ranking within that group when it comes to student services."
The U of S dropped one spot, to 12th out of 15 universities, in this year's survey, which was released Nov. 11. It beat out Laval University, the University of Calgary and the University of Manitoba in the overall rankings.
Looking at the 23 indicators used by Maclean's, the U of S improved in six over last year, fell in nine and stayed the same as last year in eight.
Among those in which the University's standing fell were class size for first- and second-year, classes taught by tenured faculty, and student services as a percentage of budget.
One area where it stayed constant was the measure of scholarships and bursaries - 15th out of 15.
In a telephone interview, Stehr said the "tremendous deficit in scholarships" at the U of S can only be alleviated with a massive infusion of cash.
"The government has to ante up. The University also needs to allocate much more to scholarships and bursaries, but the greatest student aid to all students would be a reduction in tuition."
The USSU does agree with the University on one aspect of the survey, and that is that it measures only inputs, with no consideration given to outputs like the experience of students on campus and their success after graduation.
These concerns were expressed by President Peter MacKinnon in response to this year's results. He also said he will continue to press Maclean's to make changes in how it conducts the survey.
As to the overall value of the annual rankings, Stehr said the USSU "doesn't see much value in it on its own. We wouldn't recommend a student base his or her decision about where to go to school based solely on Maclean's because it looks at very arbitrary inputs. It doesn't give you a good picture of the value of the education you're received. That said, a lot of people do pay attention, and Maclean's keeps doing this for a reason - it sells magazines."