Thursday, January 05, 2006

An Education In Bribery

Tuition-free post-secondary education has always been the goal of the Canadian Federation of Students, best known for its organization of the annual tuition fee increase protests, in emulation of the the supposed European ideal (never minding, of course, that European universities are more difficult to get into, and that even free tuition is disappearing over there).

Now the Grits have jumped into bed with the woolly-headed campus Marxists with a $7 billion promise of practically free education for low-income students. Though aren't they almost all low-income?

Sources said every student, regardless of income, would get some new financial help to defray tuition fees. But low-income students would be the biggest beneficiaries of the new plan, receiving up to $3,000 a year for four years.

Depending on the school and the program of study, that could cover the bulk or even all the tuition cost of earning an undergraduate degree or diploma. According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition fee for a university undergraduate in 2005-06 was $4,214.

Currently, under the Canada Access Grant, the federal government provides up to $3,000 to low and middle-income students to help defray tuition fees for only the first year of study at a post-secondary institution.

Mr. Martin's promised expansion of the grant program would cost about $550-million a year over five years and, sources say, would help an estimated 55,000 students.

It's unclear, however, whether co-ordination will be needed with provincial governments to ensure that students see the full benefits intended by the Liberal plan.

There have been complaints in the past that federal financial-aid initiatives can be negated by tuition and fee increases allowed by the provinces, who have primary responsibility for higher education.

Will this $3,000 a year go directly to the students to blow on beer and popcorn, to the university student financial aid offices directly, or to the provincial governments to dole out as they see fit?

Moreover, isn't it still just another subsidy by taxpayers who don't benefit from educating others, and by low-income taxpayers to subsidize even part of high-income families' childrens' education, if everyone gets at least some benefit from it?

The Millennium Bursary already covers up to $3,000 per student, regardless of year so isn't this just an old bursary under a new name?

In any event, this will not stop universities from raising tuition fees, nor will it keep students from taking on piles of debt.

If the Grits really wanted to relieve the student debt load, why not make them loan repayment income contingent, taken from a percentage of each graduate's income tax every year? Andrew Coyne has the right idea: if you want to make an investment in post-secondary education, treat it like an investment, and the returns will follow.


Janalee said...

Here's a idea: Stop funding arts degrees. Take a quick poll of students in any B.A. program and ask them what they plan to do when they graduate. I would imagine something like 75% are going to say they plan to get a second degree (because really what else does one do with an B.A.). Now I realize it is important to have people who understand subjects like Philosophy, Economics, History ect., but to make it useful it must be done at the graduate level or beyond.

Now think about it if taxpayers are funding students in B.A. programs and most people do the 4-year major (or honors) plus and extra 2 years (at least) of a Master's degree, or 2-3 years in education, or even another 4 years in another program, that's 6-8 years that we're paying for them to be in school (they pay it back eventually but even so).

And yes who decides who low income students are? Also there is something wrong with the student loan program when farm kids can't get a loan because thier parents make too much gross income.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there's something TERRIBLY wrong, when a government plan allowing a student to concentrate on a full courseload instead of having to take a partial course load, and working a part-time job, thereby prolonging the student's time in school, and keeping them OUT of the taxpaying workforce.

How did YOU pay for school?
I'm waiting tables, and wishing I ONLY had to go for four years.

Anonymous said...

Tuition has spiked far beyond inflation in the last 10 years, minimum wage has not matched the spike in tuition. Last summer i worked 7 days a week, now i work 4 days a week in addition to my full course load.
my story is NOT remarkable, this is the reality of post secondary education in Canada.
I have not had a drink in a very long time, i have not had disposable income for a very long time. I spend my money on food, rent, and tuition. thats it thats all.
your comments about how students will waste the money is reminiscent of liberal comments re beer and popcorn. Insulting, wrong, and rude.
In the UK students complain about not having enough money to go out partying, in Canada students complain about insufficient space for their campus food banks. thats disgusting, and an embarrasing reality.
For all the rhetoric on preparing for the knowledge based economy Canada obviously doesnt care about preparing for the future.

Anonymous said...

Did Gordon Campbell invest in post-secondary education as he promised? Noooooo. So why should we ever trust the Liberals?

They are just trying to buy our votes....