CFS Reports Grim Prospects for Students in Face of Recession

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Written by Andrew Garvie

The economic recession has prompted a "back to school rush" and growing accessibility concerns. As the labour-market dries up for recent graduates and students scheduled to graduate, many are considering grad school as a way to weather the economic storm. Applications to graduate studies have increased dramatically since last year while potential employers of undergrads look less and less dependable.

This is occurring at the same time as the student movement is demanding debt relief citing accessibility concerns. Canada Student Loan debt reached over $13 billion on January 21st of this year. This figure only includes debt owed to Canada Student Loans and excludes provincial and private loans.

Student prospects are looking bleak as banks are doling out less credit and companies are expected to hire less graduates. Students who rely on summer employment to fund their studies are also getting nervous. In December of last year alone statistics Canada is reporting 34,000 jobs lost. The Canadian Federation of Students criticized the federal government's inaction in a press release following the budget unveiling last week. The budget allowed for $2 billion dollars to be spent on campus infrastructure but critics say nothing is in the cards for student debt, student unemployment and increased access to an already stressed education system.

The CFS points to Barack Obama's promises as being a more progressive, long-term plan. The American federal government has planned to increase funding to the needs-based "Pell Grant" and an extra $500 million for student jobs. The CFS called Harper's latest budget "underwhelming" when compared to plans south of the border. They point to a recent Harris-Decima poll commissioned in November 2008 which shows that nearly 60% of Canadians believe that federal government should maintain program spending during the recession, whether or not this results in running a deficit.

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  1. Posted by: Libertarian_1 on Feb 5, 2009 @ 2:43am

    perhaps government should assume all student debt and raise taxes to pay it off right in the middle of a recession... yeah, that makes a lot of sense! because what we need more of right now are higher taxes! it's either that or monetize the debt and inflate it away, which is not good for anyone who has saved money, like, i don't know... people who are saving for university!

    no. what we need are market-based tuition fees. as student enrolment increases, increase tuition to the point the university will break even. this isn't rocket science people! it's the neoclassical approach.

    i find it contradictory that this article mentions student applications are up as the "student movement" cries foul over accessibility concerns! i'm a part of the "objective" student movement and obviously there are people who find university accessible enough to push application rates up.

  2. Posted by: Libertarian_2 on Feb 5, 2009 @ 2:44am

    if you can't afford an education and don't believe in yourself enough to borrow a loan and pay it back once you enter the labor market, then you can always borrow books from the library for free. you just have to have confidence in yourself, people! a lot of folks can't pay for a house upfront either and the amount of residential mortgages outstanding in canada is a lot, too, but what they do is take out a mortgage. and they understand it's an investment. it's the same with education. invest in yourself!

    that said, perhaps, we could use more universities in canada. that would be a supply-side approach to the problem. but what the CFS is doing is arguing for a ceiling on the price of education, which in itself distorts the market and won't solve the debt problem for anyone in the longterm. it's merely a shortterm/shortsighted solution, which allows the CFS to ramble on they give a damn while they continue to milk students for money through our student fees. it's typical! there's an article like this every year. and, if you didn't notice, i'm starting to get sick of it!

  3. Posted by: Libertarian_3 on Feb 5, 2009 @ 2:45am

    and i'll tell you another thing... if the CFS really wanted to help, they would hire some economists- people who actually understand how markets work! and cooperate with government instead of criticizing everything they do and providing half-assed, left-wing solutions that come off as sounding completely ignorant.

    there are solutions to this problem out there, but the current CFS approach and articles like these aren't it.

  4. Posted by: Editor on Feb 5, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Libertarian: I suggest you consider writing an article for the cannon. The comments section is supposed to be for brief comments, and it appears you have lots to say. We welcome any submissions for publication to [email protected] While we also welcome to your commentary under other posting, we ask that you limit the number of words. Thanks.

  5. Posted by: bad idea on Feb 5, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Wouldn't reprinting chapters of The Fountainhead violate copyright law?

  6. Posted by: itshardtopost on Feb 5, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    @bad idea

    Hahahahah, awesome.

  7. Posted by: Kira on Feb 9, 2009 @ 11:39am


    You suggest that a university education or rather the price of one should be regulated by market principles. Market principles are used to regulate commodities. The CFS central complaint and the one you have missed is that education is not a commodity it is a right. The commercialization and credentialism that has crept into the post secondary world is disturbing. More and more it is only those with money who can get a high level education and only those who pursue "worthwhile" degrees as defined by the corporate sponsors of research get that funding. Many European countries have recognized the class divide that such a system nurtures and have made post secondary education available to all. We should do the same.

  8. Posted by: Libertarian_4 on Feb 14, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    re: kira

    i appreciate your comment kira.

    it's true education is a 'non-compete'/'non-rival' good. but if an education is all you're after, why not just borrow the books from the library? there's a system that's inclusive.

    however, if it's a university degree you're after it just so happens that if you're smart enough we have scholarships and bursaries for those who can't afford it. but the way it works is that the smartest, most deserving people receive them. you can be the poorest of the poor and still attend university provided you're intelligent and/or work hard enough.

    additionally, you can take out a loan, save throughout high-school, take a year off between high-school and university to work, work during university, ask your relatives for their monetary support, parents can set up an RESP from the moment their child is born, etc.

    i'm not saying it's easy, but no one ever guaranteed it would be. some people will have to work harder than others. that's a fact. the point is that a university degree IS available to those willing to work to achieve it. but, i'm sorry, a university degree in this country is NOT a birthright. it's only available if you're willing to earn it.

  9. Posted by: Libertarian_5 on Feb 14, 2009 @ 3:49pm

    re: kira

    market principles regulate the labor market, too, which is important when hiring professors to teach in universities. so you have to work with the market, not against it.

    and where in the article does it mention anything about "the commercialization and credentialism that has crept into the post secondary [system]"?

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