For Immediate Release
March 24, 2023
Students frustrated with failure of leadership from Government and University Administrators, calling for restored funding to post-secondary education
ST. JOHN’S—With more cuts to post-secondary education announced in Budget 2023, Newfoundland and Labrador students are frustrated with the failure of leadership from both the government and post-secondary institution administrators as it pertains to the future of our province’s post-secondary education (PSE) system.
While the Government claims to be investing in the future of healthcare and education in the province, cuts to PSE are contradictory and will only damage proposed outcomes.
“We are already facing shortages in healthcare and other essential services, and will need the ability to train workers to fill these gaps for years into the future,” says Gaayathri Murugan, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students - Newfoundland and Labrador. “Instead, the government is cutting funding, reducing access, and increasing tuition fees—making it harder than ever to access an education in our province.”
Students are already facing a doubling of tuition fees, as announced this past year at Memorial University, and expect things to get worse with the additional cuts to funding.
Budget 2023 cut a total of $11.2M from Memorial University, and shuffled an additional $8.5M from the Tuition Offset Grant into other budget areas. This $19.7M cut represents roughly one-third of the $60.7M allocated to the Tuition Offset Grant in Budget 2022.
“It is unacceptable and outrageous that students are being forced to shoulder the burden of the provincial debt in the form of tuition fee increases,” continues Murugan. “Premier Furey and Minister Haggie may try to blame university administration for these tuition fee increases, but cutting a third of the Tuition Offset Grant is an obvious lack of support and leadership from the Provincial Government on education affordability.”
“Instead of intervening to prevent university administrators from raising tuition fees and reducing access to an affordable education, the government has enabled these decisions by making massive cuts to funding.”
While students welcome the maintained $14.9M Tuition Offset Grant at the College of the North Atlantic, and an increase of $2.6M funding allocated to CNA overall, college students are also facing increases in tuition fees and other course related costs. This budget offers little reassurance and harms affordability for students hoping to gain access to education and employment.
“It is increasingly apparent that students need to obtain a degree or certificate to secure employment to continue living here and contributing to our communities, but government funding cuts, like the ones in Budget 2023, are making this more difficult than ever” says Gaayathri Murugan, CFS-NL Chairperson.
Students also acknowledge that while the $11.6M increase in funding to Student Financial Services may help some students access grants and loans toward their education, it will not go far enough to ensure affordability for a majority of students.
Further, these cuts will disproportionately harm international students who are simultaneously ineligible for local student financial assistance programs, and face differential tuition fees at 3.5x higher cost than domestic students. With cuts and tuition fee increases already announced at MUNL, International students will pay a whopping $41,810 more for an undergraduate degree at Memorial University than they did when the tuition freeze was in place—doubling what they would have paid prior to the freeze.
If these cuts continue, undergraduate students at MUNL will be forced to shoulder the burden of the province’s deficit reduction plan—even though the deficit is on course to turn into a surplus within five years. The recent ‘Passing the Buck’ report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) found that Memorial University undergraduate students—2.2% of the province’s population—could end up paying a third (29%) of the province’s entire deficit by 2025-26.
Students will be meeting with membership and community to discuss how this budget will further impact learners now and into the future, and will be organizing to fight the fees and restore funding to our province’s post-secondary education.
For further information, please contact:
Robert Leamon, Organizer
709.737.3204 (O), 709.771.0222 (M)
The Canadian Federation of Students - Newfoundland and Labrador proudly unites 25,000 public post-secondary students in NL in the fight for high-quality, affordable, post-secondary education.