Some things you can always count on in fall — leaves changing colour, rapidly-darkening skies . . . and university students saying tuition is too high.
Yesterday, NDP advanced education critic David Eby was on campus at Thompson Rivers University talking to students and faculty about student concerns — and highlighting his party’s push for a $100-million non-repayable grant program for post-secondary students.
Today, students at Thompson Rivers University are being treated to a free concert, Tunes Against Tuition, with Mother Mother and We Are The City playing as part of TRU’s students union’s ongoing campaign about tuition fees.
We could make the argument that whatever fees were paid for that concert might have gone further trying to reach government officials or sway off-campus public support for their cause, but we don’t want to ruin the party — literally, in this case.
We also can’t help but remember that protests of student fees are relative — Quebec students went into the streets last year in near-riot in protest of tuition hikes that would still make their post-secondary education cheaper than anywhere in B.C.
Still, we can’t help but empathize with our students. The rising rate of tuition fees is a concern — it’s more than tripled in the past 10 years at TRU, although there is the minor distinction that TRU became a fully-fledged university in that time.
More troubling is the fact that TRU doesn’t receive the same share of government funding that other universities do, despite being part of the Research Universities Council of B.C.
TRUSU has done thoughtful work into clearly demonstrating the discrepancies between
government funding at other universities and post-secondary institutions, which can be viewed on its website at trusu.ca. But expecting the province to simply turn on the funding tap and top up TRU is a non-starter.
The logical outcome of lobbying for more government funding at TRU is asking the government to take those funds away from other post-secondary institutions across B.C.
Presuming that won’t be coming from the big three — UBC, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria — that means that other universities which receive a fairly similar proportion of government funding to TRU would have to face even larger cuts for our funding to grow.
In other words, lobbying for more government funding is asking Victoria to play winners and losers with universities.
We like TRU’s odds in that fight, but we have to ask: are TRU and its students union willing to ask the province to grow our school’s funding at the expense of others?
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.