Nfld. & Labrador

AG's suggestions on tuition fee review shows 'shallow analysis,' says federation of students

Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general has recommended that the province review the tuition freeze that's been in place since the Liberals were in power in 1999 — but student leaders at Memorial University are already fighting against the potential of higher fees.
Earlier this week, Auditor General Terry Paddon said the province should consider looking at who is benefiting the most from government's funding at Memorial University. (CBC)
Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general has recommended that the province review the tuition freeze that's been in place since the Liberals were in power in 1999 — but student leaders at Memorial University are already fighting against the potential of higher fees.
Travis Perry of the Canadian Federation of Students says he felt sections of the auditor generals' report — specifically the tuition fee freeze — came across as a "rather shallow analysis." (CBC)

Earlier this week, Terry Paddon suggested that students from outside the province pay higher tuition than those who are from the province.

Travis Perry, chairperson of the local chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students, told the St. John's Morning Show Wednesday that while he thinks the report has some good recommendations, he felt the sections on tuition fees — specifically the tuition fee freeze — came across as a "rather shallow analysis."

The people of this province can remember the 1990s —​ and those were dark days for post-secondary education.- Travis Perry, Canadian Federation of Students 

"It fails to acknowledge the fact that the university does a whole lot more than teach. One-third of our student body is from out of the province, and to say one-third of [the] operating budget goes directly to subsidize those students, it isn't really looking into the fact of the matter of what the university does" he said.

"They do significant research and community engagement outside of just teaching in the classroom that significantly benefits our province. Our high school and youth population in this province is steadily declining, and we need to be attracting students from outside of the province ... and a good means of doing that is through investing in the tuition fee freeze."

Investing in the future

Perry said if the province wants to continue to attract students who've been "flocking" to Memorial, it should continue on the current path.

"We have to look at the fact that this is an investment in the future of the province, and if we want to continue to lead the country in accessible, affordable high-quality post-secondary education, then we have to continue on the path that we're going, in regards to post-secondary education," he said.

Currently, Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest tuition fees in Canada, and Perry said the 15-year fee freeze has paid off.

'It isn't really looking into the fact of the matter of what the university does. They do significant research and community engagement outside of just teaching in the classroom that significantly benefits our province.' - Travis Perry, Canadian Federation of Students 

"An economic impact study was done by Memorial University just a few months ago and what it found, the institution itself injects more that a billion dollars into the provincial GDP. Almost $100 million of that is directly from the purchasing power of students — and more than $366 million of that is having a higher educated workforce in the province," said Perry. 

"We experimented in the 90's with changing our tuition fee system, and that had devastating effects on our province. Enrolment plummeted at our institutions, we had huge out-migration of youth, and we had increases in student debt. The people of this province can remember the 1990s —​ and those were dark days for post-secondary education."

Perry added there are "a staggering amount of students" who are opposed to removing the tuition fee freeze, which includes international students, as well as students from Newfoundland and Labrador.

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