Government to MUN: Keep tuition freeze, or else

The minister of advanced education and skills has a warning for Memorial University, keep the tuition fee freeze or it will lose more funding.
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Gerry Byrne says if Memorial University raises tuition for students the province could cut its funding (Ted Dillon/CBC)

The minister of advanced education and skills has a warning for Memorial University, keep the tuition fee freeze or lose more funding.

The president of Memorial University, Gary Kachanoski, said with new cuts in this year's budget the university will need to revisit its plans and won't guarantee that the tuition freeze will stay in place.

The freeze has long been a government policy, but while the province does provide it funding, Memorial University has the independence to make its own decision about tuition rates, and that has left the minister and president playing a cat and mouse game for a second year.

"I feel very, very confident that Memorial University of Newfoundland, its board of regents, will be able to find additional efficiencies within their own operations and to maintain the tuition freeze for Newfoundland and Labrador students," Advanced Education and Skills Minister Gerry Byrne told reporters Tuesday.

One day before, Kachanoski told CBC News he could give no guarantees.

Memorial University president Gary Kachanoski says he can't guarantee the board of regents will maintain a tuition freeze when it approves the budget. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

If tuition goes up, funding could go down

This year the province increased the amount of funding for a tuition freeze to $56 million, but cut the regular operating grant, leaving the university with $3 million less.

"If there's a tuition increase for Newfoundland and Labrador students then we would not be providing all that money for a tuition freeze for Newfoundland and Labrador students," Byrne said.

The minister said the province gives the university about $26,000 per student, while other Canadian universities provide $10,000 per student.

"There are ways and means Memorial University of Newfoundland can accommodate this budget … without impacting Newfoundland and Labrador students," he said.

Limiting the demand for a freeze to only students from this province does open the door for Memorial to charge out of province students more, something that the Quebec government currently does.

Right now any student from Canada pays the same rate.

The provincial government first brought in the freeze in 1999.

About the Author

Peter Cowan

CBC News

Peter Cowan is a St. John's-based reporter with CBC News.