Apr 2 2011, 03:55 AM
Yep! Considering keeping some vinegar in my backpack, watching the helicopters circle. Strange times we live in--I was having a smoke with my Arabic prof and he squinted up at the helicopters. "Aywah," took a drag, "There's more freedom in Egypt."
I'm usually quick to support any movement that urges transparency and government reform, but I hemmed and hawed about this one. As a foreign student paying 5x what Quebec (or French, or Swiss, or Burkina Fasian, or Tahitian, or Belgian, but not francophone Ontarian or Manitoban) students pay*, I find it difficult to sympathize sometimes. Particularly knowing that in my hometown, the cheapest state university costs about double and most universities cost well over ten times that. But then it occurs to me that this is precisely why protests like this matter--not because one should knee-jerk resist all increases in public costs, but because it's important to prevent a similar inflation/cyclic debt issue in Canada. Education accessibility is really important. So hello, Montreal police, please do not throw your truncheons, I am trying to help out your children.
*that is to say, the laws here frame tuition structure such that immigrants from a country with French as an official tongue (mind, the country, not the immigrant) pay the same tuition as Quebecois students, but out-of-province Canadians pay about 4x that, and internationals about 5x. I have beef with this as a policy for a couple reasons, but mainly because it excludes francophone Canadians from benefits given to (potentially non-francophone) Europeans, with no guarantee that they will remain in Quebec post-grad, unlike most out-of-province Canadians. It's selectionism, but poorly done selectionism. Therein lies my beef.
To give some actual numbers, Quebec students pay about $3,000/yr in university tuition, whereas the national in-province average is about 6 (so a quebec student studying in Ontario would pay about $9,000, whereas an ontario student in Quebec pays $12,000. In the states, most private universities charge well over $30,000/yr, and can reach $60,000 with room and board, which are often obligatory. It's not uncommon for public universities in the states to come to about $30,000/yr, either (eg, SUNY Stony Brook in NY, UCLA in California).
Right-o, that was a lot of me spouting off about my opinion about this weird corner of the world. Howzit going UK-wards? Has Aberdeen been seeing any similar action?
Apr 2 2011, 10:46 AM
Aberdeen, being in Scotland, is in an odd position. The cap on tuition fees in England has been raised from £3,000/year to £9,000/ year. In Wales, I think they're capping it at £5,000/year and the Welsh assembly will pay the shortfall. Currently, Scottish students get free tuition in Scotland. EU students get free tuition in Scotland because of EU rules. English students, however, currently have to pay up to £3,000/ year (although it's usually less- at my uni, it's £1,800/year) but this could go up with the tuition fees in England possibly rising. There are huge cuts to department funding, with some universities completely cutting whole departments. At my uni there's a non-replacement policy for many areas, and offers of redundancy packages. Students are starting to mobilise, which is nice to see, and in many places there have been occupations and marches on campuses. At Glasgow University, they have occupied The Hetherington which used to be a bar/ social space for postgrad students that was closed to be turned into university offices. They've been in occupation for the last 60 days, and managed to resist eviction by police recently. (In Scotland, squatting is a criminal offence instead of a civil offence as it is in England so they've done pretty damn well in staying there.)
I was in London last weekend, for the Trades Union Council-organised march. It was lots of fun. This happened:
among other things
(ignore any talk of petrol bombs or ammonia-filled lightbulbs. It's rubbish)
Apr 3 2011, 02:19 AM
Is it sad that I get Canadian news from an English forum? My weak defense is that it happened on the other side of the country.
Apr 5 2011, 12:22 PM
At my uni we're getting a lot more students and the same number of teachers, so it's not quite such a severe position - the content of the courses is still going to be delivered in the ways that we want, the main crunch is going to be during grading times. This block I'm going to be grading around 700-800 pages of documentation over the course of about two weeks. There's no short cuts to doing this the right way - obviously every one needs to be treated equally and fairly whether it's the first, in the middle, or the last. I can only see this becoming more difficult next year. Like I say, it doesn't impact on the quality of the content being taught, but it does present challenges for assessment structures.
I can imagine it will be a lot harder in UK universities where they are losing staff - that's not just intensifying the workload, that's potentially doubling it for some workers, and it's unlikely there will be any additional financial reward for the staff who remain.