Tuition cuts won’t increase university access

Here’s another article to check out from the Globe and Mail: Tuition cuts won’t increase university access

As usual, most tuition talk is always focused on undergrads, but it’s still an important lesson, as undergrads are the ones who eventually become grad students. In fact, I often hear about how we need to be recruiting the best and the brightest to come to grad school. However, there’s a lot less talk about how we design our undergrad programs to encourage these people to become the best and the brightest and to want to go to grad school.

Anyway, the article talks about every students favorite topic: tuition. It’s a topic that students love to complain about. We’re paying so much more than they did 10, 20, 30 years ago. Are we actually getting better services for our money now then we did back then? Is the cost of tuition a barrier preventing more people from accessing higher education?

This article presents the case that lowering tuition won’t increase access to lower income students. However, if you read the article carefully, that’s a very simplistic conclusion from the data.

The data actually states that there would be an increase of 7.8% if tuition was eliminated. Which is not a measley number. However, theya re correct to point out that to get that 7.8% increase, we (society) would have to cover the tuition of the 100% currently attending university, and who are already willing (and able?) to pay their tuition. And it’s a valid question to wonder if this would really be worth it.

There was another article I read a while ago (6 months? a year?), that for the life of me I can’t find (but if I do I’ll post it), that looked at who goes to university in two different cities/provinces in Canada. I believe it was something like Nova Scotia and Manitoba. The comparision here, was that university in Nova Scotia has a signficantly higher tuition cost than those in Manitoba, and yet there was not a significant difference in the percentage of people who attended in one province versus the other. This brings some doubt to the argument that tuition is the biggest obstacle in attending university.

The article I linked to today also, in a round about way, makes this point when they remind the readers that tuition and books is generally only about 25% of the cost of going to university. While they don’t mention the rest of the costs, I assume they are talking about general living expenses. They may also be dividing tuition into *actual* tuition and *extra* fees. I know a fairly large percentage of my tuition is actually fees.

While I don’t agree with all the conclusions drawn in the article, I do think that it’s worth a read. I’m not saying that universities should be *raising* tuition, but I do think we need to take a second look at the reasons that are being thrown at us as to why *lowering* tuition is a good thing. Especially with so many universities struggling with constant budget cuts.

Note – Oh, I just saw this article this morning, and figured I’d add a link to it as well: Canada tops list of the most educated countries. Fifty percent have some form of higher education! That shocks me, but is also kind of cool. It’s kind of crazy that with that number, universities still have a very difficult time filling graduate seats with Canadians and must rely heavily on international students.

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