U of R’s Faculty of Arts close to a breaking point says professor

A university professors dire predictions for the faculty of Arts are not a certainty, according to the dean.

Due to financial difficulties, a three-year plan of cuts has been made, which is based on enrolment targets.

If those targets are not met, cuts could be even larger.

“My department will probably not exist at the end of the three years because we have eliminated a number of our programs already,” said Dr. Emily Eaton, a Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at the U of R..

Shannon Dea, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, says that all faculties are likely to be affected similarly.

“None of the Deans have yet learned exactly how big a base budget cut each faculty will take, but it will likely be pretty similar across the board,” said Dea in an emailed statement.

“Arts is bigger than the other faculties, so the dollar value will be bigger in Arts, but in terms of proportion, all faculties are facing similar challenges.”

Eaton believes other faculties are likely to receive more support from the province.

“The province wants to invest in areas where there’s growth in terms of job markets,” said Eaton.

Although she recognizes that Arts graduates play a different role in the job market than “professional” programs, such as an Engineering and Education, Eaton says that they are still essential for attracting and retaining students.

“Even if you’re a nursing or education student, you still take a ton of courses in the Faculty of Arts,” said Eaton. “We cant expect students to keep choosing to go to U of R while we’re hiking tuition and delivering less in terms of programs.”

New students choosing to come to the U of R is essential to limit the cuts being made.

Enrolment numbers have declined after climbing for a number of years and international student enrolment has also decreased according to the Fall 2022 student headcount done by the Office of Institutional Research at the U of R.

Annual Fall headcount statistics from 2003 – 2022

Tuition has risen steadily, especially for international students. Eaton says that the university is aiming for a 15% increase in international student enrolment in order to avoid further cuts.

U of R’s tuition statistics for 2021 and 2022

Eaton remains hopeful as she believes a “baby boom” is set to reach University age in the next five years. That is why she, along with the University of Regina’s Faculty Association and the Saskatchewan NDP, is calling for emergency funding from the provincial government.

She says if departments are cut, it might not make a difference.

“We’ll have cut so deeply through attrition that they won’t be choosing the U of R anymore,” said Eaton.

Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario was forced to file for creditor protection in Feb. 2021 after it could not afford to pay staff.

Laurentian’s situation is one that the U of R hopes to avoid and in a message to staff, University President Jeff Keshen expressed confidence in the schools ability to weather the unprecedented cuts.

Pictured at top of page: The Ad-Hum Building at the U of R

 

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