UPEI students lobby Ottawa for tuition breaks, research funds

Students ask politicians for changes during national education lobby week in Ottawa. University students from PEI were part of a national lobby in Ottawa this week calling for better access to post-secondary education. 35 students from across Canada had nearly 200 meetings with government asking for commitments to alleviate education debt, reduce tuition fees, increase grants, and more.

The Canadian Federation of Students brings student representatives together from across the country every year to meet with members of parliament and senators.

“One of the issues particular to graduate students is that many of us enter our program already in debt from our undergraduate programs,” said Valerie Campbell, who’s on the national executive of the CFS and is also president of the UPEI Graduate Student Association.

Tuition is increasing but the only source of funding other than loans is through Canada Graduate Scholarships, and those have not increased along with tuition fees, said Campbell.

Research too industry-focussed

Another problem, Campbell points out, is that research funding is oftenfocussed on industry research for “commercializable” things rather than basic or curiosity-based research into social problems including mental health, she added.

The CFS wants the Canada Student Grants Program to be expanded, and they also want post-graduate funding to be awarded based on academic merit rather than what Campbell called the “short-term priorities of the private sector.”

“We’re really advocating here for a national Post-Secondary Education Act, so there will be some federal oversight as to how monies are spent on education.”

Campbell met with Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, Malpeque MP Wayne Easter and Senators Elizabeth Hubley and Percy Downe, and their responses to the recommendations were positive, she said.

“Nobody has kicked us out of their office yet,” she laughed.

Article retrieved from CBC news.

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