Majority wants free education: poll

According to a new poll, the vast majority of Newfoundland and Labradorians support free education for post-secondary students.
Newfoundland and Labrador CFS Chair Jessica McCormick says free post-secondary education will benefit the province as a whole. (CBC)

The vast majority of people in Newfoundland and Labrador support free education for post-secondary students, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The poll done, for the Canadian Federation of Students, shows that more than 80 percent of the people who responded support a free post-secondary education.

Newfoundland and Labrador CFS Chair Jessica McCormick said the poll clearly indicates that post-secondary education is a key issue for people of the province.

"It's not just students that have been advocating for these issues, it's the general public, which is extremely important with an ongoing election campaign," said McCormick from Memorial University's Student Centre.

The poll was conducted from Aug. 19-25 by Harris-Decima and included 476 telephone surveys of people aged 18 years and older.

The aim was to assess the level of public support for the federation's stand on tuition fees, student financial assistance and student debt.

McCormick said the province would benefit if more students can afford a university education.  She said an expected labour shortage means there will be a big demand for skilled workers.

"When we are talking about funding for post-secondary education it's not just funding for students and institutions it's funding for the future of the province."

Of the province's three political parties, only the New Democratic Party has announced its post-secondary education platform.

The NDP is calling for a phased in program of non-repayable grants based on need to eventually replace the existing loan system.

The party says 8,000 post secondary students in the province now receive student loans.