I guess it’s been a while since I hit the keyboard. Not physically, that would be a terrible thing to do. I mean what did the keyboard do to deserve being hit? Actually my keyboard has been waiting for me to come back to type out my opinions, actually screaming; my keyboard is wondering what in the name of Zeus and the Olympian gods is going on in Quebec.
There were actually confirmed protests in Paris, Taipei, London (UK), Berlin, Brussels and Copenhagen regarding the decision to increase tuition from the base amount of $2168 by $325 each year for 5 years. The reason behind the international protest is Quebec attracts many international students, who are upset over the matter. International students have actually become far more popular in Canadian Universities, as they charge them far higher tuition to attend.
The best part about this debate is the attack on the students. Sun News posted a graphic of tuition rates across the country that was not only heavily biased and completely out of context, but it was heavily shared on social media to attack the protestors. Basically the graphic showed average tuition rates across the country, which Quebec obviously has the lowest. What they failed to show was everything else, or answer the question: Why does Quebec have the lowest tuition?
Quebec has a culture of social services which derives from a less capitalistic view of lifestyle. Citizens pay more taxes for (theoretically) better/more service. Just compare Ontario tax rates to Quebec. The first bracket (39 020) pays 5.05% compared to 16% in Quebec, the second bracket 9.15% compared to 20% in Quebec, and the last bracket 11.16% in Ontario compared to 24% in Quebec. That’s quite a large difference. The extra money is supposed to go to social services such as education to make it more affordable for the general masses. In terms of the students, tax rates should not have much of an effect, as tuition is 100% deductible. However, they will eventually pay for the tuition of the future – so they have a right to protest their future increased taxation which is supposed to limit their current tuition. Basically, improve a student’s cash flow now, in return for a higher payment in the future. Future value of money is always less then Present Value for the finance students.
Also, one should look at the fundamental reason for public education. The reason for subsidization, bursaries, and grants of the education system is to increase access, as education is primarily an investment in the future of our society. Limiting education limits the potential of society, creates a larger gap between the rich and poor, and polarizes difference sects of society. This is the reason why Germany, after World War II, made post secondary education almost completely free – a revolutionary concept that arguably gave their society a vast advantage.
Now, we can afford to have the students keep paying these rates. What’s the reason for the increase? Unions. Administration accounts for a majority portion of a Quebec University’s budget and as they have unionized and have the power to shut down entire schools, they have been granted their gross overpayments. Bureaucracy has taken over which means less efficiencies. Again, public unions and their powerful lawyers demand too much from taxpayers that simply cannot afford their ironclad pensions and payroll.
So what’s the conclusion? Support the increase of tuition. Why? That $325 per year really isn’t that much, and it supposedly isn’t going to the administration. More so to improve the quality of the Universities of Quebec, which are lagging far behind others internationally (besides McGill). However, the reformation of education should be a fundamental debate in politician’s minds, yet it’s one often forgotten. We should look at the German model, and realize our flaws. Their dual educational system has a high focus on apprenticeships produces a more technically advanced society. The humanity courses such as degrees in history, political science, recreational and leisure studies, film studies or a major in Italian Cultural studies should not be encouraged. Education for the sake of education is not a strong or good policy. Education for the sake of improving one’s skills, understanding and candidacy for a better job that can improve a society in a functional way is a far better basic view of why schools exist.
Again, I am not saying studying history or film is wrong; I am a bit of a history buff myself. However, we must differentiate between the abstract degrees, and the degrees that will support new business and economic development.
Support the increase in tuition as a temporary measure, but focus on the reformation of education from its core beliefs to its unionized restrictions.