Level of study: 2nd year PhD
Why I support a tuition freeze: Already experienced steep hikes and debt in the UK; optimistic about students rallying around a common cause
“Coming from the UK, my undergraduate student debts amount to roughly £40,000, and I’ll probably be saddled with that debt for most of my working life. For context, in 2010 the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government raised UK tuition fees from £3,000 to £9,000 per year (roughly equivalent to 15,000 CAN dollars) which came into effect the first year I started my undergraduate studies. Under the initial guise of a necessary, austerity measure, during the past 9 years we’ve seen more and more cuts to, for example, bursaries for low-income students, the increased casualization of the academic workforce, the full transformation of university league tables into an Olympic sport, and even talk of the tuition fee cap rising again to £16,000. It’s really sad that it’s seemingly the same story here at SFU, especially in an area that is already so unaffordable to many, with most students working multiple jobs to stay afloat.
I think it’s very important to keep Tuition Freeze going as a movement and to be on-guard both now and after the [Board of Governors] meeting in March. Because this certainly won’t be the end to attempts to raise tuition – if we at look at how education has become so much more expensive over the past 40 years, then no doubt within another, say, 5 years, university managers will be proposing another tuition hike, and so on and so forth. It’s crucial to build momentum and keep the campaign going way beyond the meeting in March. For despite the increased marketization of education in the UK, despite the intimidation and violence inflicted on students for protesting hikes or even daring to speak of free education for all, the positive side is there’s really been a culture shift among young people, both in and off campus. The protests against tuition in the 2010s united students around common concerns and in many cases radicalized them. Student movements lie at the heart of a revived interest in politics among young people on a larger scale, which today we see everywhere from Corbyn in the UK to [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and Sanders in the U.S. So even if we don’t get the right decision on March 21st let’s use Tuition Freeze as an opportunity to unite around shared, interlinked struggles both in and outside student politics, and continue to fight for a better future.”