The following information comes from a study done by IRIS which can be read in pdf at the link provided at the bottom of this article.
In its last budget, the Quebec government planned to hike tuition fees so that it will soon cost students $3,793 a year for university studies—or an increase of nearly 75 % ($1,625) over five years. If we take into account previous increases (from 2007–2008 to 2011–2012), tuitions will have gone up $2,125 (127 %) in ten years, jumping from $1,668 to $3,793. And the uptrend will continue past 2017, because tuition fees are slated to be indexed to inflation, even if student earning power does not follow this rise in the cost of living.
This is being presented as a way to “save” universities. But it can also be viewed as a new way of privatizing the funding and role of universities. As we will attempt to demonstrate here, we can easily refute each of the arguments submitted to defend this policy.
What are the 8 misleading arguments?
Argument no. 1 – Universities are underfunded.
Actually, Quebec universities receive a lot of money, but are often victims of either an improper use of funding, or a misallocation of resources
Argument no. 2 – University underfunding threatens to undermine the quality of education and value of degrees.
The truth is tuition fee hikes and the commoditization of universities reduces education to an essentially pragmatic good that is increasingly expensive and decreasingly rich in content.
Argument no. 3 – Tuition fee hikes would swell university coffers.
Increased tuition fees lead to changing the way education is funded, favoring a private funding model over the principle of public funding
Argument no. 4 – Raising tuition fees will attract the best students and professors and help universities purchase new equipment.
The truth is university management expenses are exploding, and they are likely to climb even higher in the coming years.
Argument no. 5 – The financial aid system will offset tuition fee increases.
The truth is over 80 % of students will have to shoulder higher tuitions with no compensation.
Argument no. 6 – Higher tuition fees will ensure that students pay their fair share of education.
With the expected increase, students will have to work twice as long as students in the 1970s to pay off their education.
Argument no. 7 – Higher tuition fees will have no impact on university participation.
Raising our tuitions to match the Canadian average would deny 30,000 students access to university studies.
Argument no. 8 – Frozen tuition fees and free education are unrealistic and potentially unfair measures.
These measures are actually relatively inexpensive and their funding is socially equitable.
A sharp increase in tuition fees is presented as the inevitable solution to an alleged problem of university underfunding. The facts analyzed here indicate that such an increase is actually a political choice aimed at privatizing the funding and role of universities.
Raising tuitions would intensify the financial burden on students with no consideration for the socioeconomic consequences of such a measure, notably with regard to university participation and personal debt.
The only beneficiaries of such measures would be private businesses, which would be authorized to transform universities to serve their immediate interests, and the managers who will pocket bigger and bigger salaries to oversee this commoditization of a social institution at the expense of its initial purpose—teaching.
The transformations underway break with universities’ public service culture and transforms them into places where people come to “invest in their human capital” for the chance to earn higher wages in exchange for an education designed specifically with private businesses’ interests in mind.
We thus see students take on debt and pay a high price for an education that can increasingly be summed up as instrumental training with a utilitarian scope meant for the sole benefit of the market.
We are currently experiencing a number of crises (environmental, economic, cultural). Given these circumstances, we should be using our intellectual efforts to reinvent the way we live and inhabit the world. Yet the transformations we see being imposed on universities actually undermine their independence and make them simple accessories to the unrestrained and irrational economic growth. Learning institutions are reduced to intellectual entrepreneurship centers that orchestrate the shift to a system ruled purely by economic considerations.
- For students, this means higher tuitions, growing debt, and an education depleted of general content.
- For professors, this leads to an incessant race for research grants, performance measures, and the relinquishment of teaching to lecturers in vulnerable situations.
- For universities, this means a shift toward knowledge industry status.
- For Quebec, this means the loss of collective institutions in favor of businesses, monopolies, and a small elite of administrators and financiers who will be the only ones to benefit from this liquidation of a public good.
We must therefore not only oppose tuition fee hikes, but also reaffirm the importance of the public—not commercial—nature of universities so that knowledge may serve to foster individual and collective autonomy, critical thinking, and the transmission of intellectual heritage rather than
simple market value.
What do you think about the tuition fee increases? Do you think this study is biased? Read the arguments, check out the study and then leave a comment.
Read the full paper and get all the details with graphs and data at the link below: