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Opinion: Board of Governors Chooses to Raise Tuition… Quite Seriously

Thursday, April 19, 2012

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This opinion piece is in response to that entitled “Opinion: Board of Governors chooses to raise tuition again… SERIOUSLY?”

I would first like to point out that our elected student representatives Mr. Blais and Mr. Straathof likely understand the fiscal situation facing the university better than any other undergraduate student due to their participation on the Board of Governors. The fact that both supported the tuition fee increase indicates to me that they must have had a compelling reason to do so which is in the best interests of students. Both students are very capable and determined individuals with a background of serving students.

I'm not sure if the author is aware, but the provincial government tightened its belt with the recent budget and is fighting a major deficit. If less funding is going to be coming from the government, where will it come from? Will it magically appear? Will the Board of Governors wave a wand and conjure up an endless supply of cash?

Decreasing tuition will result in less money to be spent on operational costs. This would mean less money for professors and less for the resources they require, like labs and equipment. There will also be less for TA allocations. This would mean larger class sizes and fewer TAs. Is this really what we want? It would be quite unwise to risk playing with our quality of education. A good education is worth the cost.

“Have we truly reached the level of privilege in universities where we think that graduating 40k in debt just for a useless degree can be justified?” asks the author. No one is coercing anyone to obtain a degree, and it is certainly not useless. University graduates earn $20,710 more per year than college graduates, $22,825 more than those in the trades, and $29,457 more than those with only a high school degree (Statistics Canada 2006), and these margins will only increase in the future. It seems that the fees we pay now will more than be rewarded to us later.

I would thus disagree with the author’s call to “socially reprimand” our student representatives on the Board of Governors. What she might instead call for, and what I suggest, is for our representatives to explain how this decision was beneficial to students.

Finally, I feel that the author errs in equating “student interest” with reducing fees. It is certainly one factor among many. Quality of education received plays an equal if not more important role than tuition fees. As already highlighted, a university education will be a tremendous financial benefit in the future. She argues that “I accredit the fact that this pattern of increases has been allowed to proceed due to ignorance.” I would encourage the author to broaden her outlook and consult more broadly with departments and other service providers to understand how decreasing their operating budget would impact students.

Written by Shamu Mosonyi

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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  1. Posted by: Kira on Apr 19, 2012 @ 11:08pm

    "I would first like to point out that our elected student representatives Mr. Blais and Mr. Straathof likely understand the fiscal situation facing the university better than any other undergraduate student due to their participation on the Board of Governors."
    - A position on the BoG means only that these individuals were able to win a popularity contest. It does not indicate any level of understanding or expertise. This is a logical fallacy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority

    " If less funding is going to be coming from the government, where will it come from? Will it magically appear? Will the Board of Governors wave a wand and conjure up an endless supply of cash?"
    -Facetious statements with no worth. The government not adequately funding post-secondary is a choice. The money necessary exists in the Ontario economy. If the people demand that the existing resources be diverted to post-secondary since they deem it a priority then the government can and should reallocate those resources. That is the defining factor of a functional democracy.

    "No one is coercing anyone to obtain a degree, and it is certainly not useless. University graduates earn $20,710 more per year than college graduates, $22,825 more than those in the trades, and $29,457 more than those with only a high school degree (Statistics Canada 2006), and these margins will only increase in the future."
    -Since approx 70% of future jobs will require a degree then yes, the population essentially is being coerced. (Otherwise you risk near-poverty or actual destitution) Since roughly 50% of graduates are facing unemployment or employment unrelated to their degrees for up to 8 years following graduation then yes, it could be argues the degree is useless. Your statscan data is from 2006. I suggest you look at more recent data as it will illustrate that the trends you reference no longer hold true. Typical degree holders of the current generation are facing 50% unemployment rates and the jobs they do get are worse in nearly every measurable way to those previous.

    "Finally, I feel that the author errs in equating “student interest” with reducing fees. It is certainly one factor among many. Quality of education received plays an equal if not more important role than tuition fees."
    -Quality of education has not even come close to keeping pace with the increases in tuition and fees even after controlling for inflation of operating costs. This argument is ridiculous.

  2. Posted by: Shamu on Apr 21, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Thank you for your comments Kira. In response:

    1) "A position on BoG does not indicate any level of understanding or expertise."I am not talking about experience prior to their position. Once they were elected, they attended meetings and gained knowledge deeper and more profound than any other student. Did you attend the meetings? Did you analyze the budget? If not, you (and us all) have less knowledge than the reps. The author of the article I responded to did not attend the budget meeting. Yet she writes as if she does. I am not saying that I do know. What I am saying is that the representatives gain knowledge on the job, just like every worker does. Thus, it is not an argument of logical fallacy; your argument is lacking.

    2) You say that my question that "if less funding is going to be coming from the government" is facetious with no worth. You sidestep the argument here. You say the government not funding post-secondary education adequately is a choice. If they do make that choice, where will the other funds come from? You fail to address the question.

    3) These arguments are compelling. I would ask that you provide the source for verification however e.g. 70% of future jobs will require a degree. I did read that Canada among OECD nations has the highest proportion of people with degrees earning below median wage (2006). Also, fully 1/3rd of university graduates earn less than the median wage (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/2009002/article/10897-eng.htm). However, the university cohorts are unarguably the best off. If you have more recent data disputing the fact that the earnings trend no longer holds please share it with us; I was not able to find any.

    4) "Quality of education has not even come close to keeping pace with the increases in tuition and fees even after controlling for inflation of operating costs." How do you prove that? Given, it is hard to argue either side.

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