University students not burdened with debt, P.E.I. conference told

Dave Stewart
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Paul Davidson, CEO of Universities Canada

CEO of Universities Canada says half of all students graduate without owing a cent

By the numbers

Following are numbers reported by Universities Canada:

-12 per cent of UPEI student population are international students, on par with the national average.

- 40 per cent of international students in the region indicate they would like to stay in the area after graduation. There are more than 10,000 attending university in Atlantic Canada.

- Universities perform nearly 60 per cent of the region’s research and development. That’s more than $200 million annually.

Organizations: Universities Canada, The Guardian, Association of Atlantic Universities Canadian Federation of Students

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, P.E.I., Charlottetown Ontario Quebec

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Recent comments

  • Think before you act.
    September 29, 2015 - 00:30

    Let's not forget that these Students are willingly piling debt upon themselves. If only people would do some research prior to applying, they might understand their options. So, you want to sign up for 4 years or researching, studying, etc.? Go do 20 minutes of research on the internet and you'll realize the most popular majors have the least amount of jobs waiting for you when you get out. It's mind blowing how original everybody thinks they are, how unique their thought process, yet everybody chooses generic majors or career choices. There are things outside of the norm people. I highly suggest prospective students spend some time reflecting on their passions & general interests before they do anything. Have you looked into College? Have you looked into alternative careers that aren't the generic courses offered locally? Have you realized that if you don't need certification. If you're extremely passionate about something you might as well go online and learn it yourself. Maybe invest that potential tuition debt into furthering your skills independently. Try acquiring skills, their more useful to the real world than an overinflated pseudo-intellectual under graduate. Try something new, it's 2015, research your options.

  • Xylia
    September 28, 2015 - 19:18

    BAHAHAHAHA...Canadian students aren't burdened with debt?! Can someone please transport me to this student debt-free planet that he's living on?

  • jeff
    September 28, 2015 - 15:28

    This makes my blood boil. These schools are nothing more than businesses and this guy proves that they are desperate. Warning to parents and high school student `` dont assume anyone is smart - they might be trying to rip you off``

  • Jacinta
    September 28, 2015 - 13:32

    Really? Most students only have 1200 in debt you can't even get a used car for that much? Wtf is wrong with this moron, student debt is ridiculous you want to start a career and most kids are pressured by parents right after high school to pursue post secondary or "we will never go back". I am a lot luckier then most because I only took out an $7800 student loan for 2 year course at HC but even still that's a span of 10 years to pay it off so they say and well considering this island is really hard to get your career started in unless your in a high demand career and well minimum wage and the cost of living isn't the greatest either these days, PEI is alittle backwards for minimum wage and cost of living but anyways, I just feel like this is a burden that haunts me daily .... And I'm always told as well oh you have to make sure you pay your student loan on time it's one of the most important things for your credit as a round adult like it will ding you pretty bad on your credit if your late or miss a payment and that's RIDICULOUS I understand it's a loan responsibilities is to pay it back but I feel like I have to go back to post secondary and take something else that's more in the market for this island if I want to succeed in my life and provide for me and my son but thinking about going through another student loan just stops me from wanting to. That shouldn't be the case at all, we the future generation to keep this earth alive and well should be able to have alittle more support from government, this Paul guy has 0 clue and that's why he's the president, but he really needs to look at his numbers again I think and take a lot More into consideration than they seem to be ...

    • Island Girl
      September 28, 2015 - 18:07

      If you could write a coherent SHORT sentence, perhaps toss in a little punctuation, maybe you would have a better shot at a good job. Your tirade basically claims it's all someone else's fault - but in a barely readable way. If that's your usual means of communicating, I would not hire you!

  • Meaghan
    September 28, 2015 - 13:25

    Maybe they should look at how many students use career development services to pay for their school since every student I met at Holland College last year were only there because they were approved for CDS to pay the bill..... I'm no longer in school and still owe $7000 and I dropped out first year due to not having enough money that I had to return to work...... these people saying we have no debt maybe need to take themselves back to school because they are stupid.

  • Geoff
    September 28, 2015 - 12:04

    I'm currently a fourth year student at UPEI, and I'm astounded to think that "half of university students graduate without debt". Upon further research, the average student loan debt owed by a graduate is $28,000 across Ontario and the Maritimes (Canadian Federation of Students). Personally speaking, I'll be graduating with near that exact total ($28,400 to be exact). I presently work part-time to help fund my education but it is in no means close to what would be needed to pay off my loans as they occur. I would like to see where Mr. Davidson is getting these numbers as I know I am not alone when it comes to substantial student loan debt.

  • Just Sayin
    September 28, 2015 - 11:22

    I just checked and my loan is still a burden....6 years later

  • Chris
    September 28, 2015 - 10:13

    Well considering I'm in my fourth year of school at UPEI, and I have over $40k of student debt, I think this guy may want to check his statement that the situation is overblown. In response to all of the comments that I have read here, I just have this to say: of course school should be free. Wait, hear me out. All of the countries that are making remarkable strides in our current world have free education. This is because, if children are our future (and they are), and the children receive good educations, the future will be better. There is also direct correlations between a better educated populous and things like crime and drug use--which effect PEI pretty heavily. To those who say it's "socialist," before spitting in digest, it is! Guess what? We're a socialist democracy here in Canada, and that is what had (before Stevie) made us one of the best countries around. Don't believe me? Health care, EI, maternity leave pay, minimum wage, welfare... I could go on. This isn't bad. It means that we don't let our most vulnerable (students?) plunge into needless poverty if we can help it, before the rest of us try to get rich; you may not get to Donald Trump levels of rich, here in Canada, but they is probably a good thing, because the guy is a nutjob--probably because he has more money than God, and beliefs he is just as all-powerful. So, instead of sitting on your soapbox yelling about how easy it was for you to pay back your student loan in 1975, go to a campus, ask a group of students about their student debts, workload, job prospects, and just listen to them, without condescending interjection, with an open mind.

  • enough already
    September 28, 2015 - 08:52

    He should have said students that have a clue don't have huge debt. Students that take useless degrees and don't have the ambition to work while going to school and expect every thing handed to them will have lots of debt.

    • student who does have ambition and works while going to school AND has debt
      September 28, 2015 - 10:46

      I have a degree in history and am currently pursuing a Master's degree in Library and Information Studies which is a professional degree that prepares me for Careers. I have worked since I was 14, and also ways involved in many extracurricular activities. I have 25 thousand in student debt and growing from my degree now and I have had VERY little handed to me. You CANNOT make general assumptions like that. Working full time in the summer and minimum wage in the school year would barely cover my tuition let alone book costs, car costs, rent, food, etc. etc. YOU KNOW NOTHING.

    • Chris
      September 29, 2015 - 19:32

      Hello sir or ma'am. I am the author of the original post. I am doing a degree that I absolutely love, and am at the top of my class. I earn scholarships and make the Deans List every year. I work two jobs totalling approximately 20 hours a week, above minimum wage, and have every year since I began at UPEI. In the summer I work full time for the Federal Government, as well as part time. So again, why don't you LISTEN to students without being a condescending Luddite. Students in our society are suffering, both during school and after graduation. The average student loan monthly payment after graduating is over $600. Per month! How are we supposed to afford to buy a car, afford rent, or start a family? How are we supposed to meaningfully contribute to our local economy with $600 monthly payments? As many people here are suffering, perhaps some of you should do some research before slinging mud at students trying to better themselves through education.

  • The Observer
    September 28, 2015 - 08:00

    @Ness: I would be interested to know what your degree is. If you are a History grad or maybe an English grad, I am not surprised you are working a minimum wage job. High school students need a LOT more guidance and information before making a career decision. Having said that - what are you doing to obtain a better job?

  • Don
    September 27, 2015 - 17:37

    Student- $12,000 used car-where are you coming from?

  • Don
    September 27, 2015 - 17:15

    What do the numbers look like when foreign students are removed from the calculation?

  • HaHa
    September 27, 2015 - 16:53

    This article sounds like something that should be in the Onion, rather than the Guardian

  • ralph
    September 27, 2015 - 16:04

    while this is good news, there are certainly a lot of waste and disregard for students' outlay during university years. If a proper analysis was done, I m sure ,many areas of improvement could be found that could save money e.g. books, and salaries and benefits that are bestowed on the professors, getting paid full time salaries for working part time. Student unions usually play into the hands of the professors rather than advocating for a fair shake for students, --- and I don't mean running to the government for more grant money.

  • Bmac
    September 27, 2015 - 15:36

    Paul Davidson is trolling us

  • Richards
    September 27, 2015 - 15:17

    I'm sure not everybody has debt, the rich entitled certainly don't. But if you're an "average Joe", and want to go to university, then you're graduating with 30k in minimum. This guy is a joke, living in some B.S. world,.

  • Will
    September 27, 2015 - 13:35

    I'm an airline pilot making 36k a year with 100k of student debt. Every month my minimum payments just for my loans are $900, I still need to pay for living costs/rent. Do the math...its unrealistic. My girlfriend is a educated as a lawyer, she worked hard in school for 8 years. She has 140k of student debt and makes the same as me. She cannot afford to live and pay back minimum monthly payments. The green party platform will eliminate student debt above 10k, and abolish tuition fees for post secondary education. They will have my vote, it works very well in European countries such as Finland and Sweden. This guy has no idea...My sister goes to UPEI and has 40k of debt and no job prospects. Nobody tells you these things when you are young. This guy is an idiot.

    • The Observer
      September 28, 2015 - 11:49

      I would like to know how long you have been out of school, and if all of your debt is for pilot training. If 80% of it is for your studies in French Literature, you cannot blame anyone but yourself. Same for your girlfriend: how long is she out of school? Did she hang up a shingle right away, or is she willing to work in a large firm? I moved for my job - 4 times to a new city, because that's what I needed to do to advance. Are you willing to do that? And lastly - if you have 100K in LOANS, you should be paying it back at 900 a month. Do you think it should just disappear? You made a contract to pay it back. If you weren't willing to do that, then you shouldn't have agreed to do so. And if you didn't know what it would cost when you left school, whose fault is that? You made a deal, and now you don't want to honor it? Time to grow up.

  • islandeur
    September 27, 2015 - 13:33

    I would like to know where he got his numbers from, because it really doesn't make sense. At any rate, I think a lot of students are undervaluing the trades and college education. University is not meant to do job training and ensure everyone professional employment... unfortunately.

  • Joe Doe
    September 27, 2015 - 12:19


    • The Observer
      September 28, 2015 - 08:04

      Yes, it is big money. But it is also years of schooling. 8 years of study for $200K is a bargain: 25K a year. Being a vet is essentially a license to print money - ever had an animal treated for anything? As for doctors - pretty much the same thing. Do you think it should be free?

  • sentance
    September 27, 2015 - 11:03

    As someone who studies this I can attest that what he is saying here is largely true, although the headline for this piece isn't really what he said (debt burdens are overblown, not non-existent). Roughly half of university graduates do now graduate with no debt of any kind according to the latest survey, and the average (for those with debt) is maybe $27,000, which would mean your average graduate has half that debt. And yes, the numbers add up. I know $15 billion seems like a lot, but there have probably been 2-3 million grads in the past decade alone. That being said, debt rates here in the Maritimes are somewhat higher than the national figures, both in terms of average debt and the percentage who graduate with debt. The numbers with debt are I gather declining a bit, but it is still a concern.

  • Ness
    September 27, 2015 - 10:29

    I owed about $28,000 when I got out of school in 2007, and that was just 2.5 years of schooling. 8 years later I still owe about $24,000 because I can barely afford to pay back the $300+ they think I should be able to afford to pay a month on minimum wage because my schooling didn't help me out at all.

  • Don
    September 27, 2015 - 10:26

    Now I know for sure what "ivory tower" means.

  • reader
    September 27, 2015 - 09:32

    This is interesting news considering the public have been brainwashed into believing that students leave universities in unreasonable debt to be repaid. Maybe the media should have been doing more research instead of jumping on the bandwagon in perpetuation of such mis- information. Certainly good news though, and nice to know that a myth has been dispelled.

  • Fed up
    September 27, 2015 - 08:14

    Don't you love it when these higher up rich guys give THEIR opinion?!? I'm sure THEIR kids don't owe anything....check out other peoples kids....where does the 15 billion in government loans come from? I doubt very much that half don't owe....definitely the half...or I say more than half...who do owe have huge bills!! University education has been made available only to the rich ....that is rich parents. Cost of books is ridiculous. One book can cost well over $200!!! They use a tenth of it...and can't sell it or even give it away for a student next year...professors change the book every year! Universities need to be stepped on! Check out the head peoples salaries! The huge pensions!

  • Grace Ayles
    September 27, 2015 - 07:18

    What country is this guy from? I went back to university as a mature student and 14 yrs later I am still paying off my student loan. I could not get a job with my BA and the government is not helping now I get not tax refund every year. This guy seriously needs to wake up and smell the roses.

    • The Observer
      September 28, 2015 - 09:00

      "Wake up and smell the roses?" Really? Take a stroll in that garden. my friend. Do you think you shouldn't have to pay back the loan? Do you think the government is responsible to get you a job? With a BA? And if "I get not tax refund" means that they take your refund to pay your loan, please explain why that SHOULDN'T happen!

    • Reality bites
      September 28, 2015 - 21:01

      This guy needs a reality check. 14 years to pay off an undergrad loan. Nothing against the arts, but my degree was in business. Ran a non profit for 5 plus years in the private sector and was hardly able to pay the bills. Took 3 years to get a federal job with Veterans Affairs... And no, I did not use my family connections even though I had them. My points are these: student loans can be crippling and especially in a place where job opportunities are limited. Granted, we choose to live here but at what sacrifice? All my friends who moved to bigger cities are already counting down the years until they can possibly retire here comfortably... And they are still in their late thirties... Sad.