Monday, April 23, 2012

Analyzing the Quebec student demonstrations

A group of self-described progressive economists have called out CBC's Rex Murphy on some simplistic "stop complaining' analysis and considering how funding for universities has changed.

I couldn't agree more. I have been frustrated at the media analysis of the Quebec student protests, which seem to ask only how Quebec tuition compares to tuition in other provinces, but don't look at the dramatic changes to the Quebec education system being proposed by the Charest government.

I think it is important to consider more than this-- in particular the percentage of the cost of education covered by tuition, and how it has changed over time. Quebec is looking to shift the funding burden for universities from the province to the students, a mistake made in BC while I was studying for my BA.

When I started at UVIC in 1988, student tuition covered 12% of the cost of the university budget. in 2011, UVIC's annual review reported student tuition covers 21% of the universities budget. [pdf].

In 2009, after a round of 30% per year tuition increases, UVIC conducted a study on the impact on students (pdf) that is worth a read. UVIC worked hard to increase grants to students and address these problems. The 2011 review cited above also shows this increase in grants and support.

Anyone can compare the funding situation of universities in BC because university audits are public and published on the Ministry of Advanced Education website here.

1 comment:

David J. A. Foster said...

I think ability to pay is most important. If some people can afford to pay more tuition, why shouldn't they? In Quebec, the increase in tuition costs for low-income students was offset by grants and bursaries, so it doesn't make education less affordable for those who can't pay at all. It's the more privileged students who don't qualify for financial aid who are complaining. Why should I fund them through my tax dollars so they can use their money to buy a car instead? High tuition + high levels of grants, scholarships and bursaries for low income students (like in Ontario) is the fairest solution.