Eight out of 10 Canadians want tuition fees frozen or lowered, according to a poll published this month.
The cost of a university or college education is seen as the number one challenge facing policymakers, with almost 50% of Canadians surveyed saying any new funding for post-secondary education should be directed first to reducing tuition fees, according to the Harris/Decima poll commissioned by CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students.
A slight majority (51%) also said a university or college degree today is so important that tuition fees should be eliminated, while the poll found 47% saying students should pay some costs.
CAUT president Penni Stewart said the results demonstrate that students and their families are struggling to cope with education costs.
“Politicians and our university and college presidents need to hear the message that fees are pushing education beyond the means of more and more families,” Stewart said.
Six in 10 polled in the survey agreed it’s more difficult for ordinary people to afford a college or university education than in the recent past.
On the national political front, the poll shows a statistical dead heat between the Conservatives (31%) and the Liberals (31%). The NDP is in third place at 14% while the Green Party has the support of 12% of Canadian voters.
In Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois is the choice of 42% of voters, with the Liberals trailing at 20%. Conservative Party support in Quebec has waned, with 11% voter support, just behind the NDP at 13% and the Green Party at 12%.
Survey respondents also expressed support for academic staff. When asked whether they believed “university and college teachers are doing a good job under difficult circumstances,” 74% of poll respondents said yes, another 66% said they “personally trust the opinions of academic staff,” and 55% disagreed that university and college teachers earn too much.
“Despite the stereotypical comments many of us have heard about professors, Canadians hold us and the work we do in extremely high regard,” Stewart said.
The Harris/Decima poll results are based on a sample of 2,000 adult Canadians interviewed between April 17 and April 28, 2008, and are considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
A summary of the poll results is available at http://www.caut.ca/uploads/Decima-Spring-2008.pdf.