Nfld. & Labrador

Paul Davis won't commit to keeping tuition freeze

PC leader Paul Davis is not committing to maintaining a post-secondary tuition freeze, but says Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to have “the most competitive tuition in the country.”

Dwight Ball says he'll prioritize tuition freeze for students from Newfoundland and Labrador

PC leader Paul Davis says he's committing to keeping Newfoundland and Labrador post-secondary tuition competitive, but did not say his government would keep a tuition freeze. (CBC)

PC leader Paul Davis is not committing to maintaining a post-secondary tuition freeze, but says Newfoundland and Labrador will continue to have "the most competitive tuition in the country."

"If something happens next year and all of a sudden there's a balloon in costs to deliver education then we'll have to consider those changes," said Davis, when pressed by reporters Tuesday on whether he'd maintain a tuition freeze.

"I can't make a commitment to you for long term in the future. We'll deal with it as we go."

The PC government campaigned on a promise of keeping the tuition freeze in 2011.

Maintaining the freeze has been a key component of the party's platform since assuming power in 2003.

In its most recent budget, the Tory government cut $20 million in MUN's base budget, and only funded a tuition freeze for Canadian undergraduate students--not international or grad students.

Student leaders concerned 

Travis Perry, provincial chairperson with the Canadian Federation of Students, said that he's disheartened to hear Davis' lack of commitment to a tuition fee freeze.

Travis Perry, chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, says it's "incredibly disconcerting" that Davis would not commit to a tuition fee freeze. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

"It's incredibly disconcerting to hear that Mr. Davis was dodging questions on his party's stance on the tuition fee freeze," said Perry.

"It's incredibly bizarre to me, especially when the PCs have understood the benefits of a tuition freeze, that now in the middle of an election they would drift even further from that policy."

Perry said the Canadian Federation of Students will be releasing polling data on Wednesday that shows widespread support for a tuition fee freeze.

"I definitely think it's going to hurt Mr. Davis and his party, ultimately," said Perry.

"We're hopeful that the party will change their mind."

Where the other parties stand

The provincial NDP announced on Friday that they would commit to a tuition fee freeze for all students, and reverse MUN's proposed residence fee hikes.

At his economic policy announcement, Liberal leader Dwight Ball told reporters he'd maintain a tuition fee freeze for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, but was unclear as to whether he'd freeze tuition for students from outside the province.

'What we're talking about first and foremost is making sure that education for tuition for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is very competitive, so the tuition freeze for NL remains in tact," said Ball.

Dwight Ball said his party would keep a tuition fee freeze, "first and foremost" for those from Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

"But we also have to look at what the cost of education is is for all students that attend Memorial University."

"The commitment that we've made to the students is that we'd make those decisions fully in consultation with the students who would be involved."

Perry said that not committing to a tuition fee freeze for all students contradicts plans for population growth.

"Dwight Ball has made it clear that population growth is a priority for Liberal party, so that fact that he isn't making a firm commitment on where he stands on a tuition fee freeze for all students, not just in Newfoundland and Labrador, is a little bit concerning," he said.

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