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By Becky Somerville
Newfoundland's Memorial University has something to smile about after the Liberal Party of Newfoundland announced yesterday they would increase funding to post secondary education by almost $12 million.
Premier Brian Tobin and Education Minister Judy Foote have committed $7 million for each of the next two fiscal years to the university, while the College of the North Atlantic will see a $4.9 million increase.
Memorial presented its budget submission to the provincial government in December in order to maintain the high quality of programs and faculty, said associate director of university relations, Peter Morris.
"What we asked for in that submission is what they are giving us," Morris said. He added this government announcement will bring Memorial's operating grant to $106 million for 1999/2000 and 2000/01.
Morris said increased funding will allow the university to uphold operations at the existing level as well as forego tuition increases for the next two years. "Certainly students are big winners in this," he said. Full-time undergraduate students at Memorial are currently paying $3,300 for tuition, he added.
Foote said the government recognized the student debt load ratio is a national concern.
"This increase to the operating grants should stabilize both the students and the institution," Foote said.
Leigh Borden, VP-internal for the Students' Union at Memorial, said the increased funding was a considerable achievement of the student movement in Newfoundland but does not deal with student debt or reinstated funding to public post secondary education.
"We're pleased of course that we'll have a tuition freeze for the next two years. However, it's not what we've been asking for," Borden said. She added student debt in Newfoundland is roughly 13 per cent higher than the national average.