Martin Willison is a retired Dalhousie professor who has concerns with the state of university education today.
The biggest problem is, “undoubtedly the price of tuition and student debt,” says Willison.
For Willison, the way to fix that is free tuition for NSCC, reduction in university tuition, and to “develop a program whereby university or college graduates could have their student loans forgiven if they choose to work for a set period in a community service job.”
The reduction in university tuition doesn’t have a specific number. A reduction in tuition is an expensive issue to deal with. It’s important to Willison, that the accounting is done right.
“It’s politically improper to make unaccountable promises on monetary issues,” says Willison.
Part of the issue, it seems to Willison, is that students maybe aren’t making the right decision out of high school.
Students are being pointed at going to university for success, without finding out if it’s the right environment for them. To fix this high schools should be giving better guidance. Free tuition to NSCC would make the NSCC a more appealing option. This would help ease the pressure on graduating students, who feel like they have to go to university no matter what.
“Pushing students into positions of long-term debt, which hangs over their heads, for decades in some cases, is an unsustainable way to go,” says Willison. “It’s just not a suitable way to organize the funding of education.”
For Willison, the foundation of the student debt problem started years ago. Industries that are able to be self-supporting such as, oil and gas should not have received government subsidies. Instead, he thinks the government should have increased support for education.
Willison is realistic about his chances of being elected.
“I’m at least optimistic that we’re moving the right direction now, but it’s taken an awfully long time,” he says with a laugh. “I believe in young people as the future.”
“I still think we can get there,” says Willison. “But it’s tough now to address these things that should have been addressed decades ago.”