CATCHING ON IN ONTARIO
The provincial government in Ontario seems to be catching on that education for the neediest is a good thing, and actually recognizing that a post-secondary education today is very different from the days when the politicians attended (Ontario, 2005).
Changes to the Ontario Student Finance program will see the eligibility requirements for student financing loosened, the parental contribution reduced, and even an amount allotted for the purchase of computer equipment each year for post-secondary students. In addition to these changes, the government is also increasing the income relief program cut-off by 5 percent, meaning that more graduate students will be able to qualify for income relief.
Of course, while all this is good, one issue it still does not address is the lifetime cap that is applied to student loans. This is federal matter and hasn’t increased in years. Today, it still sits at $40,000. Considering that the average tuition alone will cost you over $16,000 (Statistics Canada, 2004). That leaves a student about $6,000 per year to live on. This is nearly $2,000 lower than the lowest figure cited as a poverty line by The Fraser Institute, a conservative think-tank, and less than half of what Statistics Canada considers the Low Income Cut-Off amount (Canadian Centre for Cyber Citizenship, 2005).
If, as a post-secondary student, you decided to go hog-wild and live at the “basic needs” level according to the Fraser Institute, you would be unable to complete your third year of post-secondary education, have $40,000 worth of student finance debt to repay, and no degree to get the job that would let you earn enough to pay it back.
So Ontario’s move to boost student finance may be a first step to a more sensible education funding system, but only a baby step.
Canadian Centre for Cyber Citizenship (2005, April 20). Poverty from coast to coast: Provincial poverty numbers. Retrieved from http://www.mapleleafweb.com/features/general/poverty/coast_to_coast.html
Ontario. Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (2005, September 15). McGuinty government plan increases access to higher education. News Release. Retrieved from http://ogov.newswire.ca/ontario/GPOE/2005/09/15/c0096.html?lmatch=&lang=_e.html
Statistics Canada (2004, September 1). Average undergraduate tuition fees for full-time students, by discipline, by provinces (Canada). Retrieved from http://www40.statcan.ca/l01/cst01/educ50a.htm
FEDERAL COPYRIGHT BILL HURTS EDUCATION
In Nova Scotia, it’s not only music down-loaders who are against the Federal Government’s proposed copyright legislation, Bill C-60, it’s the provincial government as well (Nova Scotia, 2005).
They cite concerns for what this new bill would do to the use of the Internet in the classrooms. According to the legislation, schools and educational institutes would be forced to licence any and all materials they get from the Internet. While this does not sound like such a far-fetched thing to request, the bill grants no exceptions for materials that are currently free.
For schools, this means a large expenditure not only in licensing the materials themselves, but having to take the time and effort to actually find the owners of any materials in order to acquire a licence before they can proceed. Unfortunately, the record industry of Canada is lobbying hard on this issue, as they desperately want to make it a criminal offence rather than a civil offence to violate copyright. That way they do not have to rely on their own lawyers and investigations to catch people doing it, they can instead rely on the Canadian citizens and taxpayers to pay for prosecuting themselves.
This is the same copyright bill that makes private copying completely illegal if there are any digital rights management schemes built-in. In other words, you can’t legally put your music from your CDs on to your computer or on to another CD to take in your car.
The wunderkind responsible for this legislation right now is the Honourable Liza Frulla, who you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to let her know how you feel about this type of thing.
Nova Scotia. Department of Education (2005, September 16). Students and teachers need access to Internet education. News Release. Retrieved from http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20050916004
NEW BRUNSWICK SEES STUDENTS RIGHT
Meanwhile, in New Brunswick (2005), the provincial government is trying to promote itself to China, not just as a place of business, but as a place of education. Unlike much of Canada, it seems New Brunswick has taken the attitude that post-secondary students should not be seen as a cost to the government, but rather as an investment that encourages a better, more economically sound citizenry at home and creates stronger ties abroad.
Other provinces, in comparison, do not seem to understand that people retain a loyalty to their alma mater. They tend to view out-of-province students as a drain on their public resources, rather than as a likely point-of-entry for their goods and services.
It is well past the time that governments lost the attitude of post-secondary education being a necessary expense, like health-care and social assistance, and instead realized that post-secondary education is the key to a prosperous future for all parties involved.
New Brunswick. Training and Employment Development (2005, September 16). Minister to promote education links on trade mission in China. News Release. Retrieved from http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/ted/2005e1190te.htm
“A LEARNING ALBERTA” WANTS YOU
If you didn’t already know, the Alberta Government is conducting an investigation into post-secondary education in the hopes of creating a whole new framework that will serve to make post-secondary education a stand-out feature of the province.
The initial consultation with stakeholders is now complete and they’ve opened the next stage up to the public at large.
To provide your feedback on how you think they should shape post-secondary education in Alberta, go to this link: http://www.advancededucation.gov.ab.ca/ and take the online survey. If you ever thought you had all the answers, now is as good a time as any to let the people in charge know it.