As public funding for postsecondary education in Canada has steadily declined, tuition fees have in turn increased. 30 years ago public funding made up 81% of university operating budgets. By 2015, that has gone down to only 50% with most of the difference made up through increasing tuition fees. As well, administration increased reliance on private and corporate donations to fund their budgets leads university and college campuses further towards privatization and a for-profit model of post secondary education. With the recent removal of the tuition freeze in Manitoba it’s imperative students continue to push for affordable, accessible, publicly funded, high-quality post-secondary education for all.
While the government claims they are concerned with assisting students access education upfront – something that for many years the Federation has called for – their relatively small investments in the Manitoba Scholarship and Bursary Initiative does not represent a meaningful attempt at doing so. The growing price tag for post-secondary education is a significant barrier for those from low-income backgrounds; disproportionately impacting single parents, racialized folks and Indigenous learners. Those who can pursue college or university often rely on loans to make it through, further driving up the cost of their education once interest is factored in.
As a result of increasing tuition fees this generation of students is the most indebted in history and will become the first in Canada to make less than their parents. An educated population drives the economy, spurs innovation and creates dynamic communities. Meaningfully investing in post-secondary education accomplishes this this while also reducing student debt.