Concordia needs this tuition hike

Concordia has recently hiked their tuition fees for students. While the increase was marginal, its opponents were up in arms. There have been calls for student strikes and protests to mark their dissatisfaction with the decision. But are these opponents right when they say that Quebec tuition fees should be frozen?
The issue of tuition hikes has always been a touchy subject. Let’s examine our situation here in Quebec. If you’re a resident of this province, you are privileged enough to pay about less than half of what people in Ontario pay for a university education. When you compare what we pay versus neighboring provinces, or especially the United States, we should all be thanking our lucky stars that we have it so good.
There are many who believe that education should be a right and not just a privilege and that tuition fees should be frozen or eliminated altogether. Well, that would be a perfect world. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world; we live in a capitalistic one. Put quite simply, Concordia raised their fees because they had little choice.
Tuition fees in Quebec haven’t been raised since 1994. Does anyone remember what a tank of gas cost back in 1994? Well, it cost a hell of a lot less than it does now in 2007.
Frozen tuition fees are financially outdated. The Quebec government heavily subsidizes Concordia, but with rising costs on virtually everything and a decaying infrastructure, the strings of the provincial budget are getting tighter.
Should the government raise our taxes (which are already among the highest in North America) to pay for more university subsidization? In the end it doesn’t really matter because the student will end up paying for it one way or another; if not in tuition fee increases, then in tax increases.
If the government can’t afford to pony up more cash for universities, and when you consider that Concordia is taking in less than half of the amount of tuition compared with Ontario universities, the money needs to come from somewhere.
How can our Universities hope to remain competitive and attract talented professors unless we’re willing to pay for them?
If there’s not enough money to pay for top talent, we run the risk of a professor brain-drain similar to what’s happening with Quebec’s disappearing doctors. If there aren’t good professors teaching you, your degree won’t even be worth the paper it’s printed on.
I can sympathize with students on an already tight budget who don’t want to pay more for their education, but in any other province you’d be paying a lot more and on a much tighter budget.
You’re welcome to try it out if you want, and cede your heavily subsidized education to someone who’s willing to pay the increase. Ask a Concordia student from the U.S. how much they love coming to school in Quebec. Better yet, ask their parents who probably pay for it. While they pay more than Quebec or Canadian residents do, it’s still considerably less.
Out of province and international students will inevitably shoulder a larger burden of the rate hike, simply because their increases are proportional with the higher tuition fees they already pay.
But why do a lot of them choose come to school here in Quebec? Well, because it’s affordable. In many cases very affordable compared with where they’re coming from.
I’ll probably be slammed by tuition hike opponents for my stance on this issue, but consider the argument. Education is extremely important, and to sell its future short while clinging to an outdated policy of freezing tuition hikes doesn’t make sense. Everything has a price in our society and if we’re not willing to pay it, then maybe we don’t deserve to have it in the first place. If you want someone to blame, then blame capitalism. It’s the real evil culprit behind tuition hikes and funding woes. But changing the entire economic system that the vast majority of the world runs on won’t be an easy task, and it doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon. And until this economic system changes, tuition fee increases are a painful, yet necessary part of life.
Fact: The average Ontario resident pays $5160 per year. The average Quebec resident pays $1900. – Canadian Federation of Students, 2007.


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