Nova Scotia

Cape Breton University community calls for free post-secondary tuition

Leaders at Cape Breton University want to spur a national discussion about free education.

The presidents of the students' union, faculty association and administration all back the idea

The campaign is calling for a phased-in introduction of free higher education, first for those in need and First Nations students, then for all students. (Shutterstock)

Leaders at Cape Breton University want to spur a national discussion about free education.

The presidents of the students' union, the faculty association and the administration have signed an open letter to the leaders of the federal parties.

It makes the argument for a move toward tuition-free post-secondary education, backed by taxation at the federal level.

The letter notes that government funding decreased from 82 per cent of university operating costs in 1992 to 57 per cent in 2012, while tuition costs quadrupled over the same period.

CBU president David Wheeler says to buck that trend and change the system, access to higher education has to become a federal issue.

"We could choose to have progressive taxation. So, if we believe as often is said that graduates make a lot more money over the period of their working lives, then they pay incomes taxes. You just need to make sure that income taxes are properly recycled and invested in higher education. This is what most countries do," he said.

The campaign calls for a phased-in introduction of free higher education, first for those in need and First Nations students, then for all students.

Students' union president Brandon Ellis says the CBU leaders have contacted their counterparts across the country, urging them to join the campaign.

"This is a call to action. I'm calling upon every student union, every president, and every faculty association across the country to make this an election issue," he said.

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