Editorial: Let’s talk about free education

Education seems to be all anyone talks about these days. This is particularly the case within the university sector, but with the upcoming education summit scheduled for Feb. 25, tuition and university governance are popping up in headlines across the city.

Some people think students should have to pay more, some say less and many say that the government ought to keep it frozen as is. There is one faction, however, who believes that none of these options are good enough.

Indeed, in true Quebec fashion, some groups argue that in order for education to be truly accessible, it should be free. This idea tends to get lost in the shuffle, as Quebec Premier Pauline Marois declares the issue to be on and then off the table from one day to the next.

Quebec Minister for Higher Education Pierre Duchesne has stated publicly that he is not in favour of discussing free education and the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante has said that they don’t want any part in the summit if that is the case.

All parties seem to be waiting with bated breath for the summit to take place in the hopes that it will foster a miracle.

At this point that is what Quebec needs to end this politicized power-struggle between universities, students, taxpayers and politicians. In the midst of all the opposing views, press conferences and vague statements, the ideas brought forward can be dramatically overshadowed.

Objectively, people are giving too much weight to this one event. While an opportunity for all parties to get together and hash it out seems like a good enough idea, it’s not the kind of environment that leads to tangible solutions. Especially not solutions that will please everyone. We can’t stress that part enough.

There are people out there who want to pay a total of zero dollars for education and they will never be happy with anything higher. It’s not because they don’t believe their education isn’t valuable, it’s quite the opposite. It’s part of an ideology that entitles anyone and everyone to the same opportunities in life; the same classes, degrees, teachers and experiences made available to more than just those who can afford it.

That is not something that a person should have to compromise — and deep down that is not what Marois wants when she says she aims to find common ground. The government of Quebec is humouring universities for the time being and scheming behind closed doors about how to get re-elected.

Whether or not you think education should be free, frozen or raised to reflect the rest of Canada, this is one thing we can all agree on: we all want more than empty words and stalling tactics from our government. Whether or not we get what we want, only time will tell.


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