ST. JOHN’S (CUP) — The Newfoundland government has pledged to ease the burden of pricey tuition fees for the province’s university students.
The government announced $3.5 million in its provincial budget last Thursday to decrease the cost of university education. The government suggested the money be used to reduce tuition fees at Memorial University by 10 per cent — a drop of $297 per student each year.
The reduction would be the latest instalment of the 25 per cent tuition decrease promised by Premier Roger Grimes during his leadership campaign last year.
Both Memorial University and student groups have praised the announcement.
“I’m very pleased that additional resources are being provided to help students with their financial difficulties,” said Memorial president Axel Meisen.
Liam Walsh, chair of the provincial chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students, was also pleased. He says the government is following through with its promises for education.
“[Government] is starting to look at education as more of an asset and less of a liability,” he said.
However, the tuition-fee decrease did not impress NDP leader Jack Harris.
“We’ve got a huge student debtload, [but] there’s no imagination or creativity being used here. They’re just continuing on with the reduction,” he said.
Randy Collins, the NDP post-secondary education critic, says the tuition cuts did not go far enough to support rural students. He says government should be working toward free tuition.
However, the final decision on how the funds are spent will be made in a roundtable discussion between student leaders, university administrators and the government.
Memorial student union president Kirk Wiseman says students will be pushing for a tuition reduction in the upcoming discussions. He also says student groups will continue to lobby for the remaining five-per-cent reduction Grimes has promised.
Wiseman said he is disappointed, though, that the decrease is still not extended to international students.
He is also concerned that a roundtable discussion gives the university too much power over the spending on money that comes from public tax dollars.
With files from Steve Durant and David Skinner