University of Saskatchewan president encourages discussion on post-secondary access rather than on tuition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Oct 17, 2011 2011-10-12-OTHER University of Saskatchewan President Peter MacKinnon has suggested that any government freeze on post-secondary tuition, as proposed by the New Democratic Party today, would overstep the bounds of any Saskatchewan government.

"The University of Saskatchewan Act 1995 states unequivocally that the setting of tuition rates at this institution is the sole responsibility of our Board of Governors, and there are very good reasons for placing this authority with our board," said MacKinnon. "The Board of Governors is entrusted with the financial stewardship and long-term viability of this university for the benefit of its students and all citizens of Saskatchewan, and that financial stewardship includes setting tuition rates. For any government to attempt to impose a tuition freeze would contravene its own law as evidenced in section 49 of the Act."
MacKinnon added that freezing tuition has been a controversial issue in other jurisdictions, interfering with the wider policy debate necessary to address the range of barriers students face in their pursuit of higher education. And research shows that tuition is not the primary barrier affecting access.
He cited early findings from a study by the University of Saskatchewan that show the influence of parents on the future path of their children is even more important than family income in determining whether students access higher education. According to the research, young people whose parents have no post-secondary education are less likely to attend universities or colleges. This finding is of particular importance in Saskatchewan where the parents of Aboriginal students are statistically less likely to have attended a post-secondary institution, he said.
"Based on these and other findings, we invite government decision makers and the public to engage in a discussion on how we can eliminate all barriers for our young people and ensure a high-quality education for our students," said the president. "Included in that discussion should be ensuring adequate funding for our universities and financial aid for our students. Tuition is important but supporting students when they get to our door is critical for any public policy aimed at the issue of access."
To arrange an interview with Peter MacKinnon, contact:
Mark Ferguson
Media Relations Co-ordinator
University of Saskatchewan
(306) 966-1851

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