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Mar 21, 2002

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vol. 23, no. 6

Caution advised on tuition fee increase
Your last issue (Feb. 21) indicated “BC Tuition freeze ends” as a result of the B.C. provincial government lifting the six year freeze and returning fee level decisions to the institutions.

As a former member and chairman of the SFU board of governors and previously on the Universities Council (which formerly was the non-political body that allocated post-secondary funding), I must express concern and caution to the new board of governors. For years it was traditional policy in B.C. universities and colleges to keep tuition fees stable at 10 per cent. This was public policy in B.C., and elsewhere, to ensure that entrance to higher education (like K-12) was open to all and not based on wealth or class. This is the same philosophy inherent in our health and medicare system that is Canada's pride. It is basic to our society, that access to health, education and justice be available universally.

Even with B.C.'s greater commitment, tuition costs have more than doubled (22 per cent) in recent decades. While we are much better than the rest of Canada, we must be vigilant. The vast bulk of the cost of higher education comes out of the public purse. While an educated society benefits all, we must not return to the past when only money or class determines who enters and directly benefits. I respect those in the university who see this as a solution to shortages in academics, services, buildings, etc. but it does not make the university open to all.

Ray Parkinson

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