Dear reader,

welcome to our blog site which started with the presentation of the first open letter to the President of the University of Saskatchewan that comments on the problems which the TransformUS process has brought to our university. We have now added a second open letter that presents the particular concerns of our students about the future of education at our university.

To see the first open letter with comments, go to "January" and click on "First open letter". To see the second open letter with comments, go to "March" and click on "Second open letter".

We welcome signatures to both letters at any time. The campaign will continue as long as things go wrong at the U of S.

Whether you are faculty, student, staff, alumni, a family member of someone studying or working at the university, or a stakeholder in any other way, we welcome your signature. You can use the automated system at the address given below each letter, or write to


Note that this is NOT a campaign of the USFA, who has neither endorsed nor explicitly rejected the endorsement of each open letter, as the scope of the letters is not entirely within their mandate. So they want to leave the decision to support the letter to each single member.

If you support our campaign, please help us spread the letter widely, on campus and in the community.

Please also post comments on this blog site (by answering this blog or those that will follow). Please let us know what we can do (better), please tell us about your experiences and about those parts of TransformUS that affect you. Please also tell us if you feel that you cannot support our campaign and let us know the reasons.

We have created this blog site as a forum that is independent from the administration. Please make the best use of it and help us preserve the traditional values at the University of Saskatchewan that we all cherish.

The Free Academia Team.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Second open letter

Second open letter to the President of the University of Saskatchewan

Dear President Busch-Vishniac:

We are writing to express our concerns about the future of education at our university, and the way students are treated by its administration. 

The 1995 University of Saskatchewan Act states: "The primary role of the university is to provide post-secondary instruction and research in the humanities, sciences, social sciences and other areas of human intellectual, cultural, social and physical development." 

TransformUS threatens the primary goal of our university because programs in all these areas will be cut.

Students and faculty form the core of the university. But the TransformUS process and other developments on campus have severely damaged their morale and have raised serious questions in the community. The danger we see is that the diversity of academic offerings will be cut drastically while tuition is raised to levels that will exclude many from the access to higher education. Since 2009, students have seen tuition increase by roughly 20%. Reduced diversity coupled with reduced enrolment will ultimately result in a lack of well-educated, mature and alert citizens in our community.

TransformUS was sold to students with the argument that it is a tool to avoid tuition hikes. But on March 10, exactly such a new hike has been announced. This shows an appalling insensitivity of our university's administration towards already worried and disappointed students and their parents. Students have been assured that the latest increase is not an effort to balance the budget but rather an effort to ensure high-quality education. It is absurd to paint tuition increases in this light while simultaneously axing valuable and sought-after programs at this university.

Further, the administration tries to assure students that they will be able to finish the program they are in before it is phased out. We feel that we cannot rely on this promise as there were programs in the past that were cut or "transformed" abruptly without prior warning or any sort of consultation with the students. And even when the students are able to finish their program, they will end up with a degree from a program that no longer exists, and will therefore have less value in the perception of potential employers. Moreover, the way these programs were selected to be cut and the rankings in the TaskForce reports often downright discredit them.

While there is a lot of talk about "improving the student experience", the reality is disappointing. TransformUS will further narrow down our choices, which often are already poor. Reducing resources leads to larger class sizes, jeopardized careers and shattered dreams. Shared services and other structural changes are introduced without any consideration of the needs of students and professors. Professors, burdened with ever more administrative work, have less time for their students. In the past, our university served its students well without recurring planning cycles and the determination of "university priorities". What are university priorities if not student and faculty priorities? What good is innovation when it dismantles already optimized structures for teaching and learning? 

We are worried not only for the present students, but also for future generations. Our children and grandchildren should too receive a top education from a university with traditional values of culture, knowledge and academic freedom.

                                                 THIS IS OUR UNIVERSITY,

which Walter Murray called "the People's University". We demand that the courses students wish to study are offered at our university. We demand that the resources needed to enhance the student experience are left in the hands of the education experts, that is, the departments and the professors who teach the students. Finally, we demand that students will be actively and strongly involved in all future decisions about academic programs and all other services for students.

To sign the letter (at any time), please go to goo.gl/u8XBp9

To see the list of signatories, please go to goo.gl/g2shb7