Thursday, March 22, 2012

Should Quebec Students' Strike for Lower Tuition be Spread to Rest of Canada?

Students in Quebec have been protesting a 75% tuition increase over five years announced by the provincial government.

there are two sides to this story

In favour of keeping lower tuition

1. many countries, such as Norway, Sweden, Brazil, the Bahamas and Scotland, have free university education, and it is a worthwhile ideal to strive towards
2. Quebeckers pay higher taxes than anyone in Canada
3. Something like $890 Mil of corp. tax breaks have been given away over the past number of years, so the students might presume the gov't has spare cash to fund education
4. tuition is only a small part of the cost of supporting oneself while attending school
5. Increasing the cost of education could cause some to lose their chance for an education
6. The commitment of spending years studying is substantial enough, without forcing students to work in bars or corner stores or ??
7. Poor management, gratuitous buy-outs for admins and execs, and wastage in general, have been "noted" in the academic field as others

In favour of higher tuition

1. Quebec has the lowest tuition fees in Canada by a long shot and exponentially lower than in the U.S.
2. The government is hard-pressed to find areas to save
3. the cost of quality education is increasing and Quebec schools may lose competitive advantage
4. The tuition fees have been raised very little in years
5. Everyone has to pull their own weight at least to some extent
6. Because Quebec has CEGEPs (jr college, approx. equiv to grade 12 + 13), students only have to attend three years of university to obtain a basic undergrad degree

I hate to sit on the fence, but haven't made up my mind on this issue.

In principal, I would favour free education. But having tuition fees drastically lower than the rest of Canada doesn't seem sustainable to me. Perhaps the drive for lower tuition needs to be taken to the rest of the country...


The Mound of Sound said...

What exactly are you saying? Should the strike be spread to the rest of Canada? Should Quebec tuition cost increases be borne partly by the rest of Canada? Neither option really makes any sense.

Offroad Artist said...

The more I hear and think about it (with most commentators I'm hear critical of the students) I am leaning towards reducing tuition costs in the rest of Canada as a worthy objective.

Two reasons. One, I think the status quo is unfair for the disadvantaged.

Secondly, Canada needs to keep as far ahead of the curve as possible in terms of higher education. In coming years, other countries, especially in Asia, will be producing millions more university grads than has been the case up until now. In order for Canadians to continue to be relevant, we will need to be on the cutting edge.

So, regardless of other considerations, be they financial or ideological, we need to reduce barriers to education, not build them higher.