Socialists unite against funding cuts in 49th year

Langara's socialist club is working to educate students about cuts to public funding.


Reported by Kirsten Clarke

Public funding covered up to 90 per cent of the operating costs of colleges in the 1970s, but today only one-third of Langara’s costs are covered by provincial grants said the head of Langara’s international socialists club.

On Oct. 24, the club held a forum to discuss the sharp decline in public funding for educational institutions. The club’s research into Langara’s revenue showed that tuition fees per course have tripled in cost for domestic students, said Bradley Hughes, head of the club and department chair for physics and astronomy.

For international students, that cost is 20 times its 1970 equivalent. 

Students are footing the bill

As public funding has decreased across the province, colleges such as Langara have had to recoup revenue from other sources, Hughes said.

“It’s coming from tuition fees and overwhelmingly from international students’ tuition fees,” Hughes said. International students make up about one-third of Langara’s student population but pay three-quarters of the total tuition fees collected by the college.

The high level of private funding on campus is also a concern for club members. Private donors could begin to influence spending on campus and within departments, Hughes said.

The club is working to draw attention to these issues now that Langara is celebrating its 49th anniversary, which the club believes is being used primarily as a vehicle for fundraising from private donors.

“It’s great to celebrate how much we’ve done, but it’s also really important to call out the university when administrators are very complacent in not fighting for more public funding,” said club member Kiren Aujla.

Being a student is tough enough

Aujla believes that education should be more accessible for students, who should not be on the hook for the majority of the college’s revenue.

First year student Tony Alama believes that high domestic and international tuition costs affect students’ quality of life, leaving little money left over to pay for housing or basic necessities.

He questions how students can become healthy, productive citizens in the future if they are currently stressed and forced to severely limit what they spend on essentials.

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