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Letter: Letter targeting MUN programs incomplete and misinformed

A working group at Memorial University has been working since late 2017 to create new guidelines regarding putting up posters on campus.
Memorial University's St. John's campus

I am writing this in response to the letter published on July 7 “MUN should cut programs that don’t match NL job market,” which outlines the need to cut many programs at Memorial University.

Though the letter does accurately point out that the university is facing a time of fiscal uncertainty and deferred maintenance, the author’s solution to this multi-faceted problem is incomplete and misinformed.

First of all, the assertion that out-of-province and international students have been covered by the tuition freeze is unfortunately not the case. For the past several years, graduate students and students in professional programs have faced increasing differential fees, while domestic and out-of-province students have faced increasing service fees — more simply put, all students continue to pay for the increasing cost of education. Furthermore, this fall semester the proposed 30 per cent increases for international students and out-of-province will take effect.

Secondly, if Memorial University were to cut all the humanities and social sciences in an effort to shift to the whim of the labour market, the results would be catastrophic. As we have experienced in recent years with the near-collapse of oil in the province and the unfolding saga of Muskrat Falls, the market is volatile, unpredictable, and desperate

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ly in need of diversification. It is the strength of our public post-secondary institutions who not only train skilled workers but invite all the curious to our province to access high-quality education in a number of renown fields, including the social sciences.

In fact, job market research continues to show employers in all sectors are looking to the social sciences for hiring. This is in part due to the robust nature of an education in the social sciences and the ability for those students to adapt, critically think, and engage with issues on a wider scale. As for the positions in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), of course we still need exciting research and employment in these fields, but unfortunately these positions can also be precarious and uncertain. Therefore, it would stand to reason that supporting all fields and curiosity-driven research in all forms would not only benefit our next generation of thinkers but society as a whole.

The tendency to cut in times of economic uncertainty is a reactionary approach to a systemic and complex set of problems. It is a solution that only serves the few and disservices the future of the many.

As we look forward to both provincial and federal elections, we need to remember limiting opportunity is never the answer for growth on prosperity, it is the antithesis to both.

Sofia Descalzi

Newfoundland and Labrador Chairperson

Canadian Federation of Students

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