Students hold protest over costs of post-secondary education

By Harun Sadat

Nov. 3, 2016

University students face a $28 billion mountain of debt owed to all levels of government and something must be done about it, said a speaker at a protest held at UPEI on Nov. 2.

Veitch was speaking to students, workers and community members at the Main Building at UPEI in Charlottetown. They were there to support a nation-wide day of action against raising tuition fees and the challenges the students face because of that.

This is in response to a genuine crisis in post-secondary education, said Veitch.

“Average tuitions have now surpassed $6,300. Education is being denied to people not on bases of their capacity but on their ability to pay.

“We think that’s fundamentally unjust and that’s what students all across the country and our allies are trying to change today.”

At a June meeting of the Canadian Federation of Students, a motion passed saying something needs to be done in the coming year about tuition fees, said Valerie Campbell.

“This is a real issue and students get buried with debt.”

She is finishing up her doctorate at UPEI with a lot of debt, she said.

“I still owe $21,701.63 from my undergraduate degree. When I complete my PhD I’ll be faced with paying that back. Besides that, I accumulated $35,000 in private debt while I was trying to find a job with my masters degree.”

Fifty-eight other schools are fighting for this cause, Brittany Jakubiee said.

“We are endorsed by over four million Canadians.”

Anyone looking at the signs at the UPEI protest can see, they have two main goals she said. They want to see free education for students in Canada that includes domestic and international students, and more accessible education.

“For example, one of our messages here today is to see more accessible education for aboriginal people in Canada, who face numerous barriers in education, especially in post-secondary education.”

One way of helping them would be free tuition fees, she said.

“We want something done about the student debt. We want fees to abolish or reduced.”

It’s achievable, said Veitch. Seventeen countries around the world have zero or nominal tuition fees.

“Canada is an incredibly wealthy country. What we are saying is that instead of prioritising tax breaks to the wealthiest, our governments should prioritize education for all.”