After the long-awaited release of the Newfoundland and Labrador post-secondary education review report on April 29th, it received much backlash on social media for its recommendation to replace the tuition freeze and increase tuition at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and the College of the North Atlantic (CONA).
Katie Emily Roberts states, “Increasing tuition would be one of the worst moves MUN could make for themselves as an institution and the overall Newfoundland economy. One of the sole reasons people attend MUN is because it has affordable tuition – and even then, the majority of our student population is depending on loans to scrape by.” Roberts states that a tuition increase would likely deter out-of-province applicants from applying due to it being one of MUN’s significant attractions. She also says that many of the students in the province would leave to attend more prominent universities with more opportunities and diverse programming. “If students that grew up here leave, they are less likely to return and contribute to the workforce here in the province,” says Roberts. She also states that “if out of province applicants decline in numbers, there is a much lower likelihood they would choose later employment here.”
“Post-secondary education is an area that this province should embrace to allow the provincial economy to flourish.”Katie Emily Roberts
Roberts then commented on the student university experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, “On top of all this, the financial burdens of paying full fees this past year for an ‘online university experience’ due to the ongoing pandemic felt unfair, to say the least. Adding an increase in tuition on top of this would be the icing on the cake, adding even more negativity and creating a larger barrier for students looking to achieve a higher education.” Roberts states that “post-secondary education is an area that this province should embrace to allow the provincial economy to flourish, and by decreasing the appeal of the low tuition costs and increasing financial barriers that go hand in hand with education, they are doing just the opposite.”
Wilda Philpott states, “No, it’s expensive enough as it is. There are many out there that can’t afford to go, and they have so much talent. “
Cathy Murphy comments on student debt, “Most people don’t want their kids to start off with such debt, mind you people have and will continue to do so…. but raising the tuition will make it so that only rich families will have kids in university…. most young people don’t want to go into so much debt either considering the job market is not stable these days….”
Matthew Fuchs states regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, “I don’t see how this is advisable given the pandemic we are in and the fact that post-secondary will undoubtedly be a part of building back better. Further, any extra dollar in tuition is a dollar less in public grant money to the university. Seems the Federal Government has an appetite for bringing tuition down across Canada and move to needs-based grants, not loans.”
“Let’s not make rash decisions we may come to regret in the future by shooting ourselves in the foot cutting things for the sake of cuts.”Matthew Fuchs
Fuchs then states that he does not think that the province currently has a clear understanding of the fiscal reality. He says that the models are changing and that fiscal relationships between the federal government and provincial government are changing in that there is money spent that was not before. Fuchs says that the province could be into a whole different paradigm in 12 months with a new deal. He states, “Let’s not make rash decisions we may come to regret in the future by shooting ourselves in the foot cutting things for the sake of cuts.” Fuchs says that the province can find revenues in other ways.
Thomas Michael brings up the relationship between increases in tuition and government funding. He states, “Time and time again when universities increase tuition, the response by government is to cut funding.” He says that the government’s thoughts are along the lines of, ‘you are now receiving more money from students, so you do not need as much from us.’ He says that the net result does not mean more funding for the university but burdens students with a larger bill for the same product.
He states, “The university is one of the greatest strengths of this province. Tuition needs to stay affordable to attract intelligent, hardworking youth from other provinces and abroad.” He then raises the issue of living expenses, “It also needs to be low enough to account for the new costs of living these incoming students will have (housing, vehicle, food, etc. that some would receive from their family if they stayed home to attend their local universities).” He says that once a student is here, they are more likely to stay, start a family, get a job, and create a life in the province. He emphasizes that getting young people here is often the most challenging part. He states that “The tuition freeze has been one of the greatest acts by the NL government. It prioritized an educated and motivated future for Newfoundland. Doing away with it will not result in an improved university experience and will likely cause a decreased influx of students from abroad.”
“Tuition needs to stay affordable to attract intelligent, hardworking youth from other provinces and abroad.”Thomas Michael
Terry McDonald states, “In a world where higher education is more necessary all the time, the last thing we should do is make it more expensive. Shooting your future in the foot.”
Dillon Budden says, “Affordable education is one of the few things this province actually has going for it.”
Wilma Norman raises a point about Muskrat Falls, “We managed to waste millions on the Muskrat Falls debacle, which has sadly and ironically, ensured us an increase in electricity rates as opposed to a decrease. Imagine if we had those wasted funds for higher education? In NL, imagination and vision has been in very short supply.”
Regarding the lavish salary that the president at MUN makes, Desmond Hepditch states, “Specialist doctors in the province do not make that much, and she is just a paper pusher.”
Hailey Robyn Gosse responds to the commentary claiming that the tuition freeze is a handout, “The cost of university tuition is already too high for many young people without making it more expensive again. There are way too many people commenting on this matter who are not students or staff themselves. Nobody is asking for a ‘handout.’ Education should be a right, not a luxury. Let young people start their lives/careers without piles and piles of student debt.”
Along with the issue of Muskrat Falls, Ross Canning also brings up the issue of MHA salaries. He asks, “How much has it cost the taxpayers of this province to have 40 MHAs since 2005?” He then says that Education Minister Tom Osborne has been an MHA since 1996 and asks, “How has that costed the taxpayers of this province, in salaries and benefits?”
Christopher Darlington says, “University Education should be free, as in the student pays nothing to go. It an investment by our government into its citizens.” He then states that our government should invest in its citizens instead of investment in wealthy corporations and people. He says that the government giving oil companies subsidies is socialism for the rich. Darlington states, “stop giving the rich socialism and everyone else capitalism. It is absurd. An oil company needs help to make money? Or Amazon so they can build a warehouse, pay no taxes and pay people a pittance? Pathetic. Let’s invest in our people instead.”
Chuckey Hull states, “you have a politician say how much the tuition freeze has cost to governments bottom line, but nothing about the boondoggle that Muskrat Falls is going to cost the next 5 generations. Me personally, I think that post-secondary education should be free….as [long] as you have the marks in high school to back up what you want to do.”
Ian Gillies raises a point about Nalcor bonuses, “Is that less than we have paid out in the last couple of years in bonuses at Nalcor? Nalcor money went to a dozen people, mostly not NLers, for no reason over 2 or 3 years and MUN money helped 10’s of thousands of Newfoundlanders over 15 years.”
Angela Best states, “this taxpayer is perfectly fine with tax dollars going to education! If ‘they’ want to cut, then start at the top and within government! Furey did not blink an eye when he made his cabinet bigger and cost the taxpayers more did he!! Leave the freeze in place! And go find your 30pcs of silver elsewhere!!”
“Now that a high school education is not sufficient, but degrees and trades are needed to be successful… it would only make sense to extend funding to post-secondary education.”Angela Bradbury
Angela Bradbury says that “If we had more educated people, we would make better use of our resources, and we would then have reason for people to stay here. Better education has never had a negative impact on a society.” She then brings up a point about the K-12 school system, “Why do you think K-12 has been government-funded? It is because educating our people is the best thing for our society. When a high school diploma was considered a good education, the government decided that it was best to invest tax dollars in education. Now that a high school education is not sufficient, but degrees and trades are needed to be successful and to benefit our society, economy, etc., it would only make sense to extend funding to post-secondary education.”
Bradbury then states, “Education creates jobs. Some people do stay in the province, and having them educated will lead to a better economy. Then more people will be able to afford to stay because there will be more jobs and a better economy. And with much less student debt, people will not have to go away to work just to pay it off.”
Stewart T. Hughes says, “That’s money well spent as far as I am concerned. I wonder what the government would have wasted $700 million on if they had got it from the pockets of students in the last 16 years.”
Shawn Holloway states, “Most students are living on Kraft dinner struggle to pay rent and finish up to their eyeballs in debt when it comes to education Canada can take a lesson from Norway.”
Jason Ivany says, “Short-sightedness as usual. How much revenue did the province attract from students that could afford an education and stayed in the province and paid taxes? 700 million over 15 years is about what 1/10 of the cost overruns of Muskrat Falls.”
Jenn Brown asks, “How much has the tuition freeze CONTRIBUTED to the province?” She then states that “Education is a right. MUN used to be free to attend for your first year (many politicians in our gov’t benefited from that). If we want our population to succeed and advance (and stay here), we need to provide accessible education.” She then asks, “Why do you think folks study at MUN, or why thousands of international students move here and make the province their home and contribute to our economy?”
Matt Barter is a third-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.