While some rumours are pointing towards an increase in tuition fees, some Newfoundlanders are claiming it may actually be a solution to the low attendance issue. In discussion of a viral CBC article interviewing MUN faculty and alumni concerned about empty classrooms, Anthony Germaine, host of CBC show ‘Here & Now’, speculated on Twitter that the solution to low attendance rates could be a spike in tuition costs.
“…if I’m paying to go to school but don’t go to class, that tells me the price (tuition) is too low. Be interesting to compare attendance where students/parents have to pay more.” (https://twitter.com/andrewsampson_/status/1171065788238913536)
“Some students who are enrolled probably shouldn’t be. Low cost is a factor.” (https://twitter.com/AnthonyGermain/status/1171075123895590912)
The series of tweets backing up his argument were liked by a small contingent which was dominated by tens of responses criticizing the statement. Former students and even professors were quick to respond in defence against a tuition hike.
International students learning at Memorial have every reason to be upset about this idea. Imagine a student traveling approximately 7000 to 10 000 kilometres to get from their home to come to Memorial and finding out that after paying for that flight ticket, all their textbooks and accommodation that the tuition fees are to be increased.
As an international student myself, not only can I imagine it, I have lived through it and this isn’t just about us. I am not trying to draw out sympathy for international students, however, this action would heavily cripple us financially. I am almost certain that even the local students would be angered by this development because the reason behind it is not the most convincing to most people. We must acknowledge the fact that low class attendance may be a result of a variety of factors. Having a part time job may not be a valid excuse for missing class but there are many other scenarios which could cause this, such as being sick, having family emergencies or transport difficulties. The bottom line is that low attendance is not simply a matter of a student deciding not to go for a class.
The logic involving raising the tuition fees as to increase class attendance is not an irrelevant point to make. This is because services or items of higher value are viewed as being more important or of a higher quality than those with a lower quality. This could possibly lead to students at Memorial believing that the quality of classes provided is not of a high level, thus they would not take class attendance seriously. However, this viewpoint is problematic because the standards of the University itself regarding academic excellence contradict this notion since Memorial is ranked 501 according to the World University Rankings in 2019, even though it is the cheapest post-secondary institution in Canada.
I strongly believe that education itself is a right that every person is entitled to, even though we live in a world where people do not all get the same opportunities. Because of this, it is up to institutions like Memorial to research into finding effective ways to increase overall class attendance instead of simply turning to the tuition fees to solve the problem. The Canadian Federation of Students summarizes this point, responding to Germaine, “Comparing low tuition with low attendance is not only continuing to commodify education, which should be seen as a right – but distracts from larger systemic and structural issues.”
My suggestion would be to conduct a mass questionnaire asking the students of Memorial why the overall class attendance in most classes is low and then from there we would be able to all find a solution to the problem collectively.
My name is Tashinga Mudimu and I’m an international student and you can reach me at email@example.com.