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josh%20-%20head%20shotforwebby Josh Page

Suddenly I am on the minds of provincial politicians.

Same goes for you.

Within the first few days of the election campaign, the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP announced plans to either retain Saskatchewan grads through incentives, or immediately slash tuition.

I'm not sold on either.

The Sask. Party has a $20,000 rebate incentive in its new student retention plan. To receive the entire $20,000, a grad must stay in Saskatchewan for 7 years, with rebates coming yearly. If a grad stays for only a couple years, he/she still gets a rebate, but a smaller one. But "money's money right?

I disagree.

In the journalism field, jobs are not abundant, especially in Saskatchewan. Jobs are not being created; they are being cut. Only a few weeks ago Global TV announced the destruction of 200 jobs across Canada.

And many journalists remember the great newspaper downscaling of the Conrad Black era.

So who is the Sask. Party to tell me where I can and cannot work? I will carry my U of R degree with me for the rest of my life, consequently becoming an ambassador for Saskatchewan education wherever I go. Yet there is very little recognition for that if I move away.

The NDP has its graduate tax exemption plan already, but it, like the Sask. Party's new plan, is only applicable if a graduate works in Saskatchewan. Their election plan for students, announced Oct. 12, is to cut tuition by $1000 in time for the 2008/2009 school year. Great for prospective students; a travesty for new or recent grads.

Of course, lower tuition is always good for the future. There is very little debate about that. But what about recent and soon-to-be Saskatchewan university grads who are still here?

Last week I found an old high school picture, given to me by a friend three years ago. "We'll have to go for drinks when we are both in Lethbridge," it read.

My bags were all but packed for Alberta, but at the last minute I made the choice to stay in my home province and be a Saskatchewan grad. Does the choice I made three years ago count for nothing?

What about giving some of the money promised to grads and students destroyed by debt? As of last year, the student debt load in Saskatchewan was over $300,000,000. Two winters ago, I remember speaking to a student that drank water and ate plain, stale bread for two weeks because he could not afford food.

The real issue for students needs to be relieving existing student debt, as well as preventing future debt. Not bribes for retention.