Gutting MUN will not solve N.L.’s financial woes
Anyone who cares about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador must be alarmed by the province’s assault on our only university. Russell Wangersky’s May 14 column illustrates the situation starkly. On one hand, we have sustained cuts to Memorial’s operating budget; on the other, rising costs, reflecting both inflation and a crumbling infrastructure that puts MUN’s workers and students in harm’s way. Memorial’s senior administration sees increased tuition fees as a means to close the gap, but the governing Liberals have made it clear they will respond by reducing the transfer payment such that every dollar gained in tuition fees is matched by one dollar less in MUN’s grant from the government.
Memorial’s student unions rightly point out that affordable tuition is a major draw — both to a province facing a deficit of young people and to a city that a recent study places at the bottom of a liveability list for young Canadians. And that’s leaving aside wider arguments for affordable tuition, the demands of social justice and the long-term economic benefits of an educated population among them. MUNFA, the union representing Memorial’s academic staff, agrees that we must protect Memorial’s broad accessibility. But, with our students, we believe the government must match its protection of tuition fairness with a commitment to the institution’s viability as a centre of teaching and research.