26 February 2009

Take a Hike!

This is one of the more bizarre things I've read about recently: citing a belief that "many Canadians can afford to pay more" for university, an education think tank thinks that this is a good time to jack up tuition fees by an extra 25% to offset any potential losses universities may take in the coming years. The economic downturn is going to affect their grants and subsidies from governments in a negative fashion (given the current government's anti-intellectual proclivities, these universities, the Grinch said, will be the first things to go), so as always, to offset the difference must be made up by those with the least ability to pay for it.
Now, I'm sure that there are indeed many young Canadians who have rich mommies and daddies that can afford to put them through university. But there are plenty more in the situation that I was in, where they had to work evening & weekend jobs, make some serious sacrifices, eat a lot of Kraft Dinner, rely on a lot of goodwill from their families, apply for every scholarship and bursary under the sun, and assume a significant debt load in order to finance their post-secondary education. I am no fan of the CFS, but their student debt clock is running well past the $13B mark, and its climbing non-stop.
And now this group is recommending that the universities force kids to pay a whole lot more. That is not fair. That is not right. At a time when the government is running up huge deficits that this generation will have to repay, putting an addition personal debt burden on them makes the work twice as hard. If anything, government should be taking steps to ensure that university costs remain low so that the inventors, creators, business and political leaders, and thinkers of tomorrow can emerge into the workforce without a substantial debt load of their own so that the fruits of their labour go towards a strong Canadian economy and not a government loan repayment.

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