Students are mobilizing across the country for our vision for post-secondary education in Canada.
Universal Access. Regardless of where you are born, how old you are or the background you come from, everyone should be able to access higher education and skills training without the barrier of cost or the fear of incurring debt.
Education Justice. Students who are being pushed out of the current model of colleges and universities today are disproportionately Indigenous, racialized, queer and trans, people with disabilities, people raised in single-parent homes and people from low-income families. Our public education system must not further marginalize these communities. Education is a pathway to liberation.
Public Education. Public education is a public good that society benefits from as a whole and it must be funded as such. Post-secondary education in Canada must be by the public, for the public. Colleges and universities must be not-for-profit and not tailored to private interests.
Postsecondary Education in Canada
Postsecondary education and tuition fees are publicly regulated, our colleges and universities are public institutions; however, public funding currently accounts for less than 49 percent of university and college operating funds, down from 77 percent just 20 years ago. In recent decades, various governments have made the political choice to claw back public funding for post-secondary education and download these costs onto students and their families through tuition fees.
Dramatic tuition fee increases are the direct result of cuts to public funding for postsecondary education by the federal and provincial governments. In the past 25 years, average tuition fees in Canada have increased by more than 137 percent.To justify these increases, in recent years, governments and post-secondary institutions across the country have colluded to create a narrative that post-secondary education is a privilege and a personal benefit that students and their families should have to pay for. We know that this “user-fee” model of post-secondary education benefits the wealthy, with 60 percent of post-secondary students today coming from the two highest income quintiles. The upfront cost of college and university education is blocking students from low and middle-income families from accessing higher education and skills training.
Rising tuition fees and the reliance on loan-based financial assistance have pushed student debt to historic levels. Today, students on average graduate with over $28,000 of education-related debt after an undergraduate degree and the amount owed to the Canada Student Loan Program is over $19 billion and is increasing by nearly $1 million per day.
Low and middle-income students who are forced to take out student loans end up paying more for their education as they must repay both tuition fees and the accumulated interest on their public and private student loans. These large levels of debt impact the life decisions students make for years to come.
Students are mobilizing to fight back and advocate for our vision of post-secondary education in Canada. We know that public education is a public good that society benefits from as a whole and it must be funded as such. Education is a right of us all not a privilege of a few.