NOVA SCOTIA AND SPECIAL NEEDS
The provincial government of Nova Scotia will be providing (http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20040806002) tuition support to special needs students who need to go to private schools. While I’m not generally in favour of public funds going to private schools, this particular plan does have something going for it.
Mainly, the tuition support funding is for a limited period of time only. This is not intended as a long term project to benefit the private schools but really does seem geared toward making it easier for special needs students to gain the benefit of a particular situation. According to Education Minister Jamie Muir “It will provide financial assistance for students with special needs who would benefit from a brief period outside the public school environment.” This certainly seems like a reasonable use.
Additionally the amount available for tuition support will not exceed what would normally be paid to the public school system for that student. When you consider that special needs students often take more from the school in terms of staff time and materials than their counterparts that the system is geared for, this may well prove to be a net benefit to the public system. It will certainly be of benefit to those students with special needs.
ONTARIO MAKING LOWER TUITION A CAMPAIGN PROMISE ONLY?
In Ontario, the elected liberal government has been fulfilling its promise of freezing sky-rocketing post-secondary tuition. It’s set aside money in the budget to cover the shortfalls felt by universities for doing so. Now that the election is over, however, it seems they’ve decided it was only meant as a temporary thing, as the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, Mary Anne Chambers, has said in a recent interview that she could see tuitions rising again after the two years has been completed.
Naturally, students groups in the province are concerned (http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=3823bdbd-43df-4bfe-a014-8b4b1d56d2c7). Though Ms. Chambers stated that would happen so long as the financial aid is in place for the students who need it, we all know that increases in student funding to match tuition are rarely enough, as every other cost of life continues to rise as well.
For the Liberal Party, I see this as a winning strategy. Put in a tuition freeze for two years, then allow them to jump for two years. Come election time they can make flowery speeches about trying something that didn’t work, and re-implement a freeze just in time to sway voters.
So long as our memories stay short, they have nothing to fear.
BC CONTINUES THE COURSE
Deciding that they’re going to solve the problem of higher education by making bigger buildings, BC is pleased to announce (http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/nrm_news_releases/2004MAE0039-000636.htm) an additional 3,450 new post-secondary seats to be added to universities and colleges around the province.
Unfortunately for British Columbia students, how you pay to get your butt into one of those seats is your problem. For British Columbia tax-payers, the problem is that this is a solution that simply does not scale. As a post-secondary education of some sort becomes more of a requirement to function in our society, sooner or later the province will have to realize that there is only so much room available for these buildings and that buildings themselves do nothing to create a more educated populace. They do make an awfully nice campaign backdrop though, I’m sure.