Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

March 19, 2003


The Canada Millenium Scholarship Foundation has found ( that 70% of students undertake some type of debt in order to further their education. Hardly news, but it certainly seems to be to the Federal Government.

More interesting, however, is that the study goes much deeper into looking at what types of debt students are accumulating and how this breaks down over various groups of students. The finding of the study is that even with public loans, most students are still not getting enough to make ends meet on a month-to-month basis.

One conclusion the study comes to is that student finances do not affect academic performance, but students who are working more than ten hours per week take longer to complete their degree. Unfortunately, this conclusion is based on data provided by current students – in other words, those that were no longer in post-secondary education simply weren’t included. This means that it could be students that had to work too much in order to continue their education ended up flunking out of their respective university or college.

It is interesting to realize that with 70% of students having to go into debt to finance their education, provincial governments across the country, and especially in Alberta, are still reluctant to raise the amount of funding they give to the universities, while at the same time all proclaiming how they are trying to get us prepared to live and work in a knowledge economy.

The worst part of this is that the government had to fund a study in order to determine that students are generally in over their heads financially, when various student union groups and individual students have been telling them this for years. I guess it goes to show exactly how much students are actually listened to by the government.

Unfortunately, we have only ourselves to blame for this. Most post-secondary students don’t vote, often claiming they feel that they have no real choice anyway. If students could get together in how they voted, however, they would soon find that candidates that gave them a choice were lining up. After all, when we don’t give our voices consequence, why should they listen?


The Province of New Brunswick has announced ( a $1,200 scholarship for all female engineering technology students that attend the New Brunswick Community College in Bathurst or Edmunston next fall. The only string attached is that the applicants must be going to one of those colleges, and must maintain an average of 70% or better in key courses.

One of those key courses, oddly to me, is French 10411. This suggests that the money for this new scholarship is not coming directly from the Province, but is rather part of the windfall funding that the federal government is putting in for a commitment to increased bilingualism across the country.

In any event, I am sure the scholarship is very much welcomed by women in New Brunswick, but it is a shame that the institutions are limited only to the Community Colleges. If you are an AU student in New Brunswick, particularly one going through the BSc programme, whether in Computing Sciences or health services, you should take this opportunity to let your government know about what you’re doing, and that AU exists for people in your province as well.

A $1,200 dollar scholarship for AU would entirely pay for two courses, after all. Wouldn’t that be worth writing a letter?


The Provincial Government of British Columbia has passed legislation ( that forces angry university staff union members to stop picketing and for all members to return to the bargaining table.

This can be seen as simply another attack of British Columbia against its post-secondary education system. First they severely cut their funding for BC universities, then when staff become upset at having to be the ones who suffer for that, they pass laws restricting staff’s right of assembly and protest.

A mediator has been assigned between the university and the staff for several months, apparently with little success. Despite this however, the government has legislated that both groups return to the table immediately, this time under the supervision of the assistant deputy minister for the Ministry of Skill Development and Labour. While it is hoped that some bargain can be reached, there now seems to be an implicit threat that if it is not reached, the government will certainly not shy away from legislation forcing these people back to work.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.