The Parties Are (Finally) Talking Tuition

Tuition. The word has always held a dreadful connotation; it’s like a heavy weight that hangs over you wherever you go and lingers even when you’ve left the campus… for good. But that’s not tuition anymore, it’s debt—student debt. It’s something that students get to know much too well throughout university, and stay acquainted with for many years after.

While middle class earnings have stagnated in the past 20 years, tuition costs and student debt have been on the rise 1. These debt levels are the highest in Ontario averaging over $28 000 2. An article released by Statistics Canada showed that in 2013, three years after graduation, two thirds of graduates across all levels of education, including bachelor graduates, had not paid off their student loans and had debt remaining 3.

A part of the reason why student debt is so high is due to the fact that government funding has decreased drastically in the last two decades, placing a greater burden on students1. Not only does a lack of government funding increase student debt, but it also decreases the quality of their education4.

The responsibility of tuition costs should be better shared by the government and students, as society also positively benefits. Individuals with a post secondary certificate contribute greatly to income tax, are healthier, commit fewer crimes, vote in large numbers, donate to charity and volunteer in their community 5. Higher education is extremely important to society as a whole, and its improvement is an essential issue that must be discussed.

This important issue was neglected by the leading parties during the beginning of this federal election, and students had a lot to say about it. Student organizations urged federal parties to change funding at a post-secondary level, and advised the government to “switch the funding model from one that is very costly and ineffective to one that could be very efficient”, so that education is more accessible to everyone 6.

The parties recently unveiled full party platforms, with many points pertaining to students and post secondary education.

“It is clear that this election can have a significant impact on post-secondary education and the student experience,” said Spencer Nestico-Semianiw, this year’s OUSA president.

“When reviewing all platform points pertaining to students, it is important to consider how realistic each point is, and whether the solutions target students with elevated needs, or all students regardless of need.”

The candidates have held up (part of) their side of the deal by proposing these platform points, and now as students, we must identify the platform points that are most beneficial to our unique situations.

Issues regarding federal funding, tuition costs and debt will still continue to face many students until the government begins to change the post-secondary funding model. Until then, students can get their votes to the polls, to make their presence in this year’s federal election known.

 

- Vicky Liu

 

Bibliography

1. Canadian Federation of Students. “Student Debt”. CFS-FCEE. 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015. http://cfs-fcee.ca/the-issues/student-debt/.

2. Statistics Canada. “University tuition fees, 2014/2015” The Daily (2014): accessed September 4, 2015, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140911/dq140911b-eng.htm

3.  Statistics Canada. “Graduating in Canada: Profile, labour market outcomes and student debt of class of 2009/2010, 2013.” The Daily (2014): accessed September 5, 2015,  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/141114/dq141114b-eng.htm.

4. Canadian Federation of Students. Funding for Post Secondary Education. 2013. http://cfs-fcee.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/11/Fact-Sheet-Funding-2013-11-En.pdf(accessed September 3, 2015)

5. Berger, Motte and Andrew Parkin. The Price of Knowledge: Access and Student Finance in Canada. Montreal: The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, 2009.

6. Schwartz, Daniel. ‘Back to school 2015: Why student debt could be an issue in federal, U.S. elections: The economics and politics of student loans and grants’. CBC News 2015. Web. 12 Sept. 2015.