Memorial University tuition hikes leave many students worried about pursuing post-secondary education
On Saturday, the Canadian Federation of Students Newfoundland and Labrador will march through downtown St. John’s Newfoundland, protesting a tuition hike imposed by Memorial University and funding cuts by the cash-strapped province.
Memorial University has raised tuition from $2,550 a year to $6,000 per year ending a 22-year freeze.
Effective fall 2022, Canadian undergrads at Memorial will pay $600 a course. International students will see tuition go from $11,000 to $20,000 a year. And to top that off, tuition will also start increasing by four per cent annually until 2026.
“Adjusting tuition fees was not a decision that was made lightly,” said Memorial University president, Vianne Timmons, in a statement.
She says the change is “necessary”because the provincial government ended their support for the tuition freeze and announced $68.4 million in cuts to university grants over the next five years.
“It’s a situation where both the university, and government point to each other and say, ‘It’s not our fault’. They’re kind of playing hot-potato with whose fault it is,” Kat McLaughlin, chairperson at the Canadian Federation of Students NL, says
She says the cuts go against Memorial University’s founding as the only public post-secondary institution in the province. It was named as a living memorial to those who died during the First World War and subsequently branded as a university which gave “an opportunity for everyone to get an education” says McLaughlin which was part of why the tuition freeze was so important to maintain the university’s legacy.
Students and activists are demanding that the government reinstate post-secondary funding for an education that they argue should be a public “good”.
It is important to consider that not everyone is on the same playing field, notes Chloe Fudge, a recent high school graduate and incoming student at Memorial University. She says the reduced funding and the tuition hike has made her reconsider her education choices, mostly because of the financial stress it could put on her single-income family.
“Everything is going up four per cent annually. When I heard that, I was unsure if I should actually continue with university because over the course of five years that would add up to a lot in student debt. So, I was considering then, going to college for just a year or two so it wouldn’t add up to be that much,” says Fudge.