Legislative Report (4 July 2007)

A Closer Look at Report on Graduate Outcomes

This week, Lorne Calvert and the NDP were applauding the results of a survey of graduates from post secondary educational institutions in our province. The headlines highlighted the good news: More than 88 percent of students who graduated in 2004-2005 had jobs and 85 percent had chosen to stay in the province. No doubt, these numbers are a testament to the quality of our students, the quality of the instruction they receive and recent improvements in the performance of the Saskatchewan economy.

However, if you dig a little deeper and read the charts in the back of the news release, you find things aren’t quite as rosy as the NDP would like to portray. In fact, when it comes to keeping our young people in Saskatchewan, there is still considerable room for improvement.

The numbers come from a report titled Saskatchewan Advanced Education and Employment: Graduate Outcomes, 2004-2005 The report is based on a survey of roughly 5,800 graduates from the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina, SIAST, SIIT, and over 20 private vocational schools.

The level of taxpayer support for these many programs varies dramatically. Suffice it to say the instruction provided at Saskatchewan’s two universities is the most expensive, in terms of what the students pay and in terms of what the taxpayer must pay. For example, even though the provincial contribution to the University of Saskatchewan has slipped from 78 percent to 60 percent in the last 20 years, this years operating grant totalled in excess of $200 million.

What is the NDP’s record of performance with these most highly trained and most expensive-to-educate students? Well, it’s not as good as the over-all average the headlines speak about. If you read the table at the back of the news release, you discover that 33% of U of S graduates finishing their academic program in 2004-2005 left Saskatchewan. We’re losing a third of our educational investment right off the top. Over 20 per cent of similar graduates from the University of Regina are living somewhere else.

TABLE

Just over 33% of U of S graduates are living outside of the province

Just over 21% of U of R graduates are living outside of the province.

When asked why they moved from their current location, 30.8 per cent said greater availability of jobs in general, 24.3 per cent said higher salary, 15.8 per cent said better career advancement opportunities.

“[U of S President Peter] MacKinnon said provincial funding has slipped from providing 78 per cent of the U of S operating budget 20 years ago to just 60 per cent today, and he will look for signs in the March 31 provincial budget that the government will start a major reinvestment. “It would be leadership the public supports,” he said.”

When asked why they decided to move to where they now live, just over 30 percent cited greater availability of jobs in their new location, 24 per cent said higher salaries and about 16 percent said they moved for better career advancement opportunities.

These results echo a recent Canada West Foundation report on people under the age of 35. One in four surveyed for this report expected to leave Saskatchewan. Fully one quarter of those between the ages of 18 and 25 plan to leave our province in the next five years. That rate is higher than in any other province in western Canada.

The NDP’s response to this problem is to provide a $1,100 per year tax exemption. However, as one student leader pointed out, that’s not a big consideration for a group of people that hasn’t even started paying taxes yet because students will go where the jobs are.

Students will go to where the jobs are. That’s why it’s so important to have a long term strategy to invest in our educational infrastructure, to invest in our communities and use the money we collect in resource revenues to assure long term, viable growth.

And that’s what we have failed to see so far from the NDP—a vision based on making sure our province continues to grow.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Lyle.

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