The Canadian Federation of Students has put its weight behind a new report that calls for free tuition.
CFS) recently expressed its support for a report created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The release, appearing on the blog section of the CFS website, expresses the organization’s support for complete government subsidized tuition.
CFS represents more than 650,000 students and is Canada’s largest national student organization.
The report was accompanied by CFS policy paper CFS entitled, ‘Public Education for the Public Good’.
Citing ‘neglect’ and ‘chronic underfunding’, the CFS claims that the Canadian public post-secondary system is in crisis. As a result, student access to education, quality of education and effective research are all being crippled.
According to the World Economic Forum, Canada’s post-secondary education is ranked 19th in the world. The first place ranking belongs to Singapore.
In Singapore the average tuition rates at the three major public universities can be as low as US$7,000 – if a student gets the Ministry of Education grant. If not, tuition can cost over US$30,000.
In fact, of the countries ranked in the top 10 for post-secondary education, only three are fully subsidized by the government.
In Canada, tuition subsidy decisions are handled at the provincial level.
Erik Queenan, Board-Chair at the Canadian Alliance of Students Association (CASA) says that his organization has focused its lobby efforts on things specifically in the federal government’s mandate.
“[CASA] is committed to making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.”
CASA’s executive director, Viviane Bartlett said that its priorities would be focused on lowering student loan debt. Both areas fall under the National Student Loan Service portfolio – a national mandate.
A Clear Directive. A National Strategy.
The CFS’ first recommendation includes:
- a federal Post-Secondary Education Act, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, that is accompanied by a dedicated cash transfer.
- a federal oversight body. In Ontario, we have the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. At the Federal Level? Nothing.
According to CFS, Canada is the only major industrialized country without national oversight over post-secondary education. That’s something Arte is determined to change.
The CFS currently has representatives on parliament hill for their National Lobby Week. Arte says they have over 200 scheduled meetings with senators, ministers and MP’s.
So far, the government is willing to listen according to CFS president Bilan Arte.
“We are participating in the pre-budget consultation process which is really exciting for us.”
With CASA scheduled to release its policy initiatives at the end of February, Trudeau’s federal government will have plenty of input on what his government will need to prioritize when it comes to post-secondary education.
While tuition is set provincially, the federal government provides transfer funds.
In Ontario, The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) is the largest post-secondary advocacy body. Their president declined to comment.
Will Canada someday join the likes of Finland, Norway Denmark? Will Canada adopt a Federal Ministry and abolish traditional tuition? CFS certainly hopes so.