Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘adult education

SFU tuition-free education for seniors may be in jeopardy

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This is a purely personal and self interested appeal. I am 59 and I attend as many free SFU public lectures as I can manage. I have a very limited income, but I can manage that too. But I was utterly appalled to read

For more than 30 years, Simon Fraser University has been offering tuition-free full-credit courses to anyone over the age of 60.

The program — which attracts about 60 students per year — has been a source of pride for the school, and has been growing each year. Despite its popularity, however, the full-credit seniors’ program is in jeopardy.

SFU financial vice-president Pat Hibbitts told The Vancouver Sun that SFU’s board of governors is considering a proposal to cut the program to help make up for an unexpected $6.3-million shortfall for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

My late mother was the founder and Secretary of the Worker’s Education Association branch in Loughton, Essex. Literally up until her last breath at the age of 84 she was actively promoting adult education, and given the demography of where she lived ,that was mostly directed to people over 60. There is no argument that education never ceases – and keeping the brain active is the best strategy for holding on to your marbles. Despite many peer reviewed studies that demonstrate the value of educating old people her last twenty years were a continual battle with the authorities to keep her program going – and not for lack of customers!

I have a Bachelors and a Masters degree, and do not actually need academic credits for anything. My mother actually accumulated more than enough credits for more than one degree – but never wanted one. “I only read for pleasure” she said, in typical understatement. Her interests included English Literature, Archaeology, Classics, History – especially Economic and Social History, Anthropology and she “dabbled” in a wide range of other fields too – setting up new courses every year to meet demand and usually went to the classes – just because she could.

I have no idea at all what can be done about this situation, but one thing I think I can bet is that the BC Liberal Government in Victoria will not give a stuff about this – unless they are forced to. It is typical short term, compartmentalised thinking. The benefits of education go far beyond getting people into employment, but so far as I can recall that is about the only thing I have heard from this government. Quality of life means nothing to them since it does not appear anywhere on anyone’s balance sheet. And it has been apparent for years that shifting emphasis away from road building and car orientation would have major health benefits as more people walk and cycle. Exactly the same argument applies to adult education – it will reduce the escalating costs of caring for an ageing population . But that does not get reckoned into the “need” to cut university funding , in a province which has been running large surpluses for years and has no need to cut spending, other than a political preference for a dogma that regards all public spending other than law enforcement and prisons as “wasteful”.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 11, 2008 at 8:22 am

Posted in personal thoughts

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