Recent events by UBC’s AMS executive have brought the question of tuition fees into the public light. The students have focused on the manner by which their executive did this. Leaving aside student political infighting the fact remains that tuition fees and the associated costs of post secondary education in Canada have been flying up with the net result of narrowing the window of accessibility. For many students this is not much of a problem as they rely upon parental resources to both prepare them for university and to fund them while they are at university. But and especially in the face of a growing downturn in the global economy tuition becomes a structural barrier to those potential students without parental resources.
I’ll pause right here to acknowledge all of the people who have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, the Jimmy Pattersons of this world who provide the content to the story that if only you try hard enough anythings is possible. I will also acknowledge that there are indeed a variety of funding programs from scholarships to bursaries that attempt to open the door a little bit wider for those who are seen to merit it. All this being said the structures of class power and privilege are such that unless they are explicitly targeted these structures still work (in spite of the one off examples) to exclude many people from accessing post secondary education.
The Ubyssey wrote about what they have called the tuition debacle (not debate) in which mention is made to the doubling of tuition fees at UBC since 2002, student protests elsewhere, and the avenues open to students to engage on this issue. Yet there was a tone to the article that seemed to suggest the issue of tuition fees isn’t really that important to many UBC students. One wonders.