06/03/2009

Rob Norris Misses the Point on Graduate Retention Program


The SaskParty talks about innovation, but according to a story in yesterday's Saskatchewan newspapers, apparently they are not innovative enough themselves to recognize the value of advanced education in a creative, productive society.


Strange as it may seem, their current Saskatchewan Graduate Retention Program does not even recognize graduate degrees.


And the Minister of AEEL appears to be satisfied with the current focus of his program -- not to mention being blind to the irony that what this program recognizes are actually considered UNDERgraduate degrees in academic circles. (Ask your wife, Minister Norris. With her PhD, she'll be able to explain.)


He also appears satisfied that the close to 4,000 graduate students in the province receive adequate support -- a position the presidents of the grad students associations at both UofR and UofS were at the Legislative Assembly to deny on Wednesday.


As originally happened with undergraduates, Saskatchewan graduate students who've had to leave the province to study elsewhere -- and those from other provinces who might consider moving here -- simply aren't on the Minister's rather limited radar.


Can it be that the Minister of Advanced Education, who claims to have an MA -- although what exactly the note on his official bio "Alberta, with courses completed in Saskatchewan" means, I'm not sure... Can it be that he doesn't know that Saskatchewan universities don't offer all fields of study, at either entry or advanced levels?


Or can it be that he doesn't know that for advanced study, it's wise to work with different experts at different research centres for the cross-fertilization and growth of ideas that will result? Or that Saskatchewan has only two universities, and therefore to gain an expanded range of exposure, experience and knowledge in their fields, many students have to leave the province? Or, again, that the term "Graduate" itself refers to programs beyond the Bachelors level?


Cam Broten of the NDP is right. The Government should expand this program to include Masters and Doctorate degrees, to more fully back the learning and innovation they claim to support.


If they continue to refuse to include graduate degrees, they should come clean and either admit that this is just an ill-conceived promotional stunt to try to get votes, or they should change the name to the "Undergraduate Retention Program."

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