Volume 92, Issue 77

Friday, February 12, 1999


Tan blows away competition in presidential victory

Western sees student application onslaught

Police bug for more city dollars

Newfoundland students push free tuition idea

No sore election losers

Candidate results

Putting investing into student terms

Newfoundland students push free tuition idea

By Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

This weeks re-election of the Newfoundland Liberals has left students wondering if the party can measure up to the official opposition's position on tuition.

As part of their platform in the election campaign, the Progressive Conservatives called for a public debate on waiving tuition for the first two years of university.

Despite the Tories' defeat Tuesday night, Bruce Peckford, chief of staff for the opposition PCs, said they would continue to pressure the government to initiate public debate on the free tuition issue. "Whether they'll do so remains to be seen.

"[Free tuition] is very important because it's a right that everybody should have access because students are the main contributor to economic development," he added.

While he did not explain how a government would fund free tuition, Peckford said a public debate would serve as a mechanism to determine costs, benefits and subsidization.

"Free tuition, given our current fiscal situation, could not happen at this point in time," said Heidi Bonnell, director of communications for Premier Brian Tobin.

Competing interests in health care and education have forced the province to be somewhat conservative in its spending, Bonnell said. She added prior to re-election the Liberals announced they would freeze tuition for 1999/2000 and 2000/2001.

According to Tracey O'Reilly, president of the Council of the Students' Union at Memorial University in Newfoundland, a tuition freeze is not enough. O'Reilly said the government needs to direct its attention to student debt and funding to education.

"The tuition freeze is not useless, but it's not a solution," O'Reilly said. "[The Liberals] are really avoiding attacking the issues in a substantial way."

VP-education for Memorial University Evan Simpson said while tuition did not seem to be at the forefront of the Liberal campaign, the party has addressed some issues surrounding post secondary education.

"This is an area where things are constantly changing but the point on which there is a clear position by the government is that there is no increase in the students' debt load," Simpson said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999