From the editor
// Samantha Thompson

I am a good student. At least, I try to be. And while my professors may tell you otherwise (I don’t attend as many classes as I’d like, I always cram for exams, and I’m not one of those people who writes a paper a month in advance and than edits it 50 million times before handing it in), one of my goals is to do well in school.

Unfortunately, although I am technically a “full-time” student, being a student is only one of my commitments. I am the editor-in-chief of a student newspaper, and at the end of the week I head off to work 5am shifts on weekends. With any perception of whining aside, trying to keep up with these commitments and simultaneously aiming to do well in school is hard for anyone who is not a robot.

Given the choice, I would probably choose to avoid working while completing my degree. However, like many other students, not working is not an option. School is expensive, and I need to pay for my education myself without the assistance of my parents. I have used up any scholarship money from high school, and my GPA isn’t high enough to get scholarships from the university. I live with my parents, and although we are a low-income family, I am not considered to be “in financial need” and thus am not eligible for bursaries. So, I work two jobs and pay for school that way.

School doesn’t need to be this expensive. Tuition doesn’t need to increase by the legislated maximum amount every single year (something that has been happening consistently at Capilano), but universities are left in a financial crunch when the province is not prioritizing funding for post-secondary education.

Quebec, for a time, was a province that saw things a little differently. Their universities were boasting some of the lowest tuition fees in Canada, and the fees were not going to increase because the government had legislated a tuition freeze – a freeze that has been in effect for the last 40 years.

Recently, Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced that the tuition freeze would be no more, and that tuition would be increasing $325 per year until 2016. This increase will bring average annual tuition in Quebec to $3,793, up from the current average of $2,168. Charest has said that, despite the increases, Quebec students will still be paying the lowest tuition in the country. He has also said that universities need the money, especially after the 40-year tuition freeze.

However, the fact that universities are short on money is not a problem students should be responsible for. Quebec should be reallocating its funds to ensure that universities are being adequately funded, particularly as having low tuition and renowned universities only helps their economy in the long run. That Quebec’s tuition fees will still be the lowest in the country is not a solid excuse to make such rapid, steep increases to the cost of post-secondary education.

Students in Quebec have responded to the tuition increase announcement in a way that you would hope any group of well-informed individuals would – they have spoken up, and said that the increases are unfair. Protests have been occurring across the province, most notably on a march that boasted numbers of approximately 20,000 students heading to Charest’s office. Their efforts should be applauded, because they are demonstrating the impact that students can have when they work together, and are speaking out against something that is unjust.

Tuition fee increased aren’t limited to Quebec. In BC, for example, tuition fees are some of the highest in Canada, and they continue to increase because there is no freeze on fees. In addition to high tuition fees, BC is also the only province without needs-based grants. Combine this bundle of joy with severe underfunding for many universities, and you’re left with a bleak future for post-secondary education.

Capilano University, for example, has seen its tuition increase by 181 per cent in the last ten years, but funding has only increased by 39.3 per cent - resulting in tuition contributing 33.6 per cent to Capilano’s budget, compared to 9.5 per cent a decade ago. While our tuition fees are not increasing as rapidly as Quebec’s, Capilano’s per credit fee has increased from $42.50 in 2000 to $113.40 in 2011. And although tuition has been increasing at a rate of around two per cent for the past six years, in both 2002 and 2003, tuition fees increased by 40 per cent.

Underfunding for post-secondary education is a problem in many places, but it seems that no matter how much students cry out against the increase, the costs are on their way up. It doesn’t matter that today’s policy makers “made it out of the system okay” with minimal debt, and are of the opinion that today’s students should figure it out and do the same. The reality is, tuition has been rapidly increasing without the funding to match it. Students today are graduating with more debt than students even ten years ago, and that they are doing so is not because they are lazy or haven’t “tried hard enough” to get funding.

Students should be allowed to focus on being students. By balancing work, school, and a social life, we are not getting the full experience from what should be the years of our lives where we push our brains and discover things that change our perceptions on the world. Yes, having access to post-secondary education is a luxury, but that doesn’t mean we should be prevented from getting everything out of it that we can. More funding will result in more students having the opportunity to obtain the post-secondary education of their choice, and our society will become one of a higher intelligence whose members have been taught to think critically about their world.

Students should continue to speak out against high tuition fees and a lack of grants. They need to demonstrate to politicians that they are a body worth reckoning with, and won’t stand to be pushed around. Students need to assert that they’re worthy of attention.

The post-secondary education situation is in a precarious position. Push too much harder, and students will finally wake up and notice that they’re being screwed. When that happens, you can guarantee that they will push back; they will fight, and then there truly will be a revolution.

Bankruptcy party, anyone?

//Samantha Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: