Tuition From a Different Perspective
Friday, March 13, 200934 Comments
My argument is that tuition needs to increase. While this may seem selfish for an alumnus, I would have taken on the extra debt as a student for a proportional increase in quality of education. An analysis of why this needs to be done relates simply back to the law, economics, and culture. Economically, Guelph has relatively low tuition when compared to other universities in the area such as Laurier and Waterloo. Legally, the money they are getting is simply insufficient to cope with the money they need to pay out due to restricted and endowment fund laws. Tuition is the lowest source of funding the university received in 2008 at $101.5M (ignoring immaterial accrual adjustments). Tuition is one of the only sources that can be used toward the operating (versus capital) budget.
While the provincial grants were more than tuition, a portion of these revenues are restricted in use and therefore cannot be used toward the operating budget. Another part goes toward infrastructure. The same applies to most large private donations. The implications of this are significant if you consider the outlandishly high cost structure of the university which includes unionized menial support staff members, bureaucratic process implementation, regulation limitations on tuition increases and ballooning pension liabilities.
The previous article states the “real” question to be whether or not we, as a society, can afford to decrease/eliminate tuition. First, it implies society should be responsible for bearing the “burden” of education. I think there is a clear perspective problem at the heart of this article. It identifies tuition in the eyes of a student to be a liability when it should be construed as an investment. If you want to know the real reason as to why wealthier families go to university, examine why some wealthy parents refuse to finance their children’s education. It is a cultural issue. My family is unique in that one side is completely university educated; the other side has little education. The side with the little education encouraged me to go to work right after high school to earn money so I could immediately start a family, buy a house, buy a car, etc. The extremely educated side advised me to save up money throughout high school and university, invest in an education, and seek out employment after. Education, between classes, has little to do with “accessibility” as stated in the other article, and more to do with the culture with which a person is raised and the priorities their family instils in them regardless of economic class (for further proof of how it can work the other way around, pick up a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad where his “poor” dad emphasizes education).
I think the article does not do enough to underscore the importance of self-reliance. This is another socio-economic differential between Canada and the countries the author cited. Many people actually believe that they are responsible for their own destiny and that hard work eventually pays off. By saying that the burden lies to the state not only enhances the burden on college and non-post-secondary taxpayers it also increases the burden to the post-secondary students in taxes for the rest of their lives. Of the cited by the author offering free post-secondary, one of them had a relatively close tax rate, Ireland. Ireland has 4.1 million people living there, we have over 30 million. The others were so heavily taxed why the hell would you want to go to university? You’d likely make just as much after-tax picking up trash along the highways as you would running a bank (note 0-63% tax rate in Denmark). Or maybe the government could just pay for you to be a student the rest of your life?
The notion that the state should offer free post-secondary education should be flat-out rejected. Tuition is an investment not an expense. Students not only receive financing for this investment easily through government programs and bank lines-of-credit; they also receive enough tax credits to ensure that they make tax-free income of up to $20,000 while working their way through school. Consider bursaries and scholarships and you have enough support that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. THAT is what society needs. We live in a meritocracy where hard work is rewarded, and the self-entitlement smell that emanates from the March 9th article is repugnant. If the state begins taking responsibility for people’s lives, you have communism, which would eliminate the need for people to work hard and the incentives we need for society to grow.
“Inaccessible education” is only inaccessible to those who believe they shouldn’t have to work for it. Whether through scholarship by working hard through high school, as Obama did, or by working hard through the midnight overtime shift at a potato chip factory, such as I did, there is work involved. The question that needs to be asked of the student is whether or not you want to pay more taxes for the rest of your life and get free tuition for four years, or bite the bullet on an investment that will benefit you for the rest of your career and give you the sense of satisfaction that you saved up and invested in something worthwhile. My contention remains that tuition should increase to support the school’s operating deficit that is not being met due to restricted fund regulations and tuition inadequacy.