Certain things in life are inevitable: death, taxes, the Leafs not winning the Cup, and what is seemingly becoming more and more the case, tuition hikes. The students will protest, the midterms will hit or the part-time jobs will preoccupy, and the issue will be forgotten for a year until the next time it comes around. Thus goes the circle of life.
I do not mean to belittle the protesters’ efforts, but they themselves probably realize that their actions are largely symbolic. The rise in tuition prices will make the news, the camera will pan to the signs being wielded at a major university, and then reporters will interview some of the more vocal in the crowd. In the end, the government will invariably keep its stance, so this whole dance really had but one purpose: to raise social awareness.
However, this may end up doing more harm to the demonstrators’ cause than good. Consider this: the majority of citizens are not currently in university nor are they parents who are saddled with the bill, therefore why should they sympathize with the students for having to pay more? If anything, they’ll gladly take the cut to their taxes. And while their reasons may be selfish, there are several others that are rational and would justify higher tuition prices.
First of all, it has been shown that university students are much more likely to come from higher income households. Should they then graduate with a degree &- often a fantastic return on investment &- they end up making more on average than the students who only hold high school degrees. By itself, this is no incendiary statement, as those who stuck with the so-called “program” are rewarded.
But that is not the issue here. Rather, it is the students fighting the tuition hikes or proposing even lower rates; decreasing the fees would mean an increase in everyone’s taxes and as a result, those who decided not to pursue a post-secondary education would be further penalized. Consequently, the rich would get richer and the poor would get poorer.
Now, let us contemplate a common counter-argument. The oft-cited criticism of higher tuition prices can be summed up in two words: equal opportunity. People believe that increased costs of higher education discourage students from continuing their studies after high school, but facts prove otherwise.
Ontario’s average fees are about twice as expensive as Quebec’s, yet Ontario boasts higher university participation rates.
So, lower tuition does not necessarily mean higher participation. Moreover, students who truly cannot afford the fees can already receive adequate financial support. Government should focus its spending on aiding those who genuinely need the assistance, not on helping to pay for everyone’s education&- rich or poor, which is what lower fees would entail. Money would also be more wisely spent on additional outreach programs or career advisors in high school if the goal were to increase post-secondary education participation rates.
As you are all depositing your checks at Birks Student Service Centre in the next few days, be glad the dollar amount is as low as it is. Considering the cost of an equivalent education elsewhere, we should feel privileged to be paying so little and should not be so quick to complain.