Postsecondary students right to worry about Conservative majority, CFS says

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      The local representative of a national student group says B.C. students have “a right to be worried” about the state of postsecondary education in Canada following the election of a Conservative majority.

      Michael Olson, the B.C. representative for the national executive of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), told the Straight in a phone interview that the Conservatives scored low on a “report card” analysis of the federal parties’ election platforms on postsecondary education.

      “The Conservatives unfortunately based on the last couple of years in government and their platform”¦got a pretty low mark, given that they weren’t addressing issues of record student debt or issues of the lack of affordability in postsecondary education or proper funding of the system,” said Olson.

      He suggested the Conservatives’ policies are cause for concern for students in B.C., where he said there have been cuts to operational funding for postsecondary.

      “The lack of prioritizing dedicated transfer payments for postsecondary or the creation of a national vision for postsecondary education is something that students have a right to be worried about,” he said.

      However, Olson acknowledged the Harper government has made positive steps on the postsecondary front.

      “The Conservative government in the past has created the Canada Student Grants Program, and last year alone provided over $570 million in upfront non-repayable financial aid for students,” he noted.

      Olson said the CFS will continue to lobby MPs on issues including increasing funding for the Canada Student Grants Program, the creation of a postsecondary education act, transfer payments dedicated to postsecondary education, and lifting the cap on a support program for aboriginal students.

      He noted the creation of a postsecondary act is one of the central issues the CFS has been advocating for.

      “Canada’s one of the few industrialized countries that doesn’t have a national vision for postsecondary education,” he said. “That’s something that the Conservative government has not in any way identified as a priority.”

      Olson is hopeful the NDP opposition, which has introduced a bill calling for the creation of a postsecondary education act, will generate more discussion in Parliament on the issue.

      “With such a large opposition of NDP, I’d say there’s a lot more conversation among MPs regarding the creation of that act,” he said.

      Olson said another major concern the student group has raised is increasing non-repayable financial aid for students. He criticized the Conservatives’ policies on increasing student grants as “lackluster” and argued their election platform focused on increasing access to debt.

      “In B.C. we’re looking at average student debt upon completion of a four-year degree at over $27,000, just for student loan debt,” he said.

      “Increasing access to that kind of debt load isn’t what’s going to help students in the long run. What we need is more non-repayable financial aid.”

      Olson noted the organization has also been lobbying the B.C. government to implement a provincial grants program.


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      Taxpayers R Us

      May 6, 2011 at 4:35pm

      Conservatives and Liberals were both horrible to the students in this country, and they continue to be.

      It's really disheartening watching a graduate student take a second job waitressing because the loan payments are ridiculous.

      I say take a good part of the international students' tuitions and apply them to better grants for domestic students.

      There's a good chance that domestic student's ancestral family paid for a good chunk of the school's construction and upgrades while international students' tuitions get pocketed by the schools.

      6 6Rating: 0


      May 6, 2011 at 8:35pm

      Sorry kids, there's no free lunch. If you want the benefits of higher education figure out a way to pay for it that doesn't come out of taxpayer's pockets.

      8 8Rating: 0

      Nothing spends quite like other people's money

      May 6, 2011 at 8:42pm

      Never mind the fact that students are already given a subsidy of 2/3rds of tuition (~$10-15k per student, per year!) from provincial and federal governments, for an investment that the individuals are the primary beneficiaries of, apparently they need more of our money.

      Am I insane for thinking that if $27 000 is too much debt, perhaps the students should apply themselves to a different area? How is it the responsibility of the government (and thus of all taxpayers) to ensure that when someone voluntarily leaves the workforce for 4-6 years, to receive training from highly-paid experts, it's not too expensive for them?

      If an injustice has been done, it's the lie that a university education is necessary to succeed in this world. Your 7-year double B.A. in classical studies/sociology is not worth $70k of anyone's money, deal with it.

      8 7Rating: +1


      May 6, 2011 at 10:25pm

      This is quite funny saying the NDP will be looking after their issues in Parliament. Earth to students there is no more Parliament.

      Like the BC Leg, the Harp will call the assembly together every now and then as little as the law requires then use closure to end debate immediately

      Students actually pay far more than 100% of the cost of their education in tuition fees.

      All most all of the university output is dedicated to research very little to actual teaching with the average professor begrudging only 5 to 6 hours of his time every week on his students.

      Its not the students fault that you need a 4 year diploma to be a nurse, teach kindergarten, police, or an MBA to clerk down at Telus. It's politicians not doing their jobs being 100% concerned about their own bribes and payoffs.

      9 5Rating: +4


      May 7, 2011 at 12:02am

      The conservative government has made fellowships, bursaries and scholarships which are integral to the students degree non-taxable. This change is the tax law is a huge benefit to all students who scholastically achieve or are on stipend for research.

      I do not agree with any other policy of the conservative governement, however, this tax break is never mentioned when people speak of their attack against students.

      8 8Rating: 0


      May 7, 2011 at 4:23pm

      It's true that you don't have to saddle yourself with loads of student debt by going to university--if you want to work on the oil pipelines for the rest of your life. If you don't aspire to ever own a home, you can work your way up to assistant manager at a mall retail store.

      Are those of us who grew up post-Trudeau really spoiled whiners for wanting more than that? It's obvious that a university education and therefore a decent job is being turned into a luxury for only the upper-middle class and upper class. God forbid a G8 nation make education possible for the poor. Burgers don't flip themselves!

      10 6Rating: +4


      May 7, 2011 at 6:28pm

      @NoLeftNutter: You're right—there is no free lunch. If you want the benefits of an educated, highly skilled workforce, figure out a way to pay for it that doesn't come entirely out of students' pockets.

      5 10Rating: -5

      Steve Y

      May 7, 2011 at 8:27pm

      Many have it right... we are in an "education bubble" as peter Thiel puts it...too many are over educated and the return on investment for most degrees are just not there. It is criminal the amount of people that study "psychology" or "philosophy", wasting their lives.

      10 7Rating: +3

      virgil hammer

      May 7, 2011 at 8:30pm

      I'll take Obvessive Comments from Canadian Federation of Students for $1000.00 Alex

      8 8Rating: 0

      glen p robbins

      May 8, 2011 at 4:45pm

      Post Secondary education (tuition only) should be free for all people born on Canadian soil who have resided here for at least ten years---with other monies loaned on the basis that the loan is deferred for a period of tens years and then extinguished once that person has lived and worked somewhere in the country.

      The better the education the higher the incomes. Property owners put the kids through K-12 and generally pay much of the freight all round - in the cities and the province - so the feds should pony up more dollars to ensure that those young people put through school by property owners are properly educated -- acquire higher paying jobs --- and buy properties - pay huge mortgage fees to banks and keep the rats cage going moving forward--educating more kids K-12.

      I say Harper pay up for post secondary

      10 8Rating: +2