Your opinion on making college/university cheaper/more affordable or free?

Discussion in 'Politics & Diplomacy' started by wild goose chase, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. wild goose chase

    wild goose chase Active Member

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    I don't know if there was any discussion about not too long ago Ontario making college/university free to low income students and decreasing the costs for others more broadly, so I thought I'd bring it up. I remember attending university in Toronto about a decade ago and it seemed like protesting the rising cost of fees/tuition was regularly a big thing among students.

    I think it's pretty good that Ontario is trying to make college/university affordable, since things like housing, a car etc. are already pretty costly and are constraining the age at which young folks can become independent.

    The expectation nowadays too that parents provide and pay for some of the tuition as well as the idea that it's harder to get many jobs without post-secondary so many are still dependent on parents into adulthood puts a burden on families, so I think it's a good thing that some of it is at least lifted.
     
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  2. King of Kensington

    King of Kensington Senior Member

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    Yes, I am very supportive of this idea. Secondary school was free when it was no more common than a post-secondary education is today.

    It has also been done in several European countries which have decent welfare states.
     
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  3. Filip

    Filip Senior Member

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    That's the best way to create a new career path for students.. Professional students.

    I know too many European folks (friends, family, etc) who have been 'studying' for close to 10 years. A few credits per year, no rush, etc... Is that the best way to move forward? Why should we subsidize academia to that level? Maybe if the rule were 4 years to graduate, no exceptions... Additional years will cost you international student rates.
     
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  4. wild goose chase

    wild goose chase Active Member

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    The general trend still seemed to be towards increasing lack of affordability of tuition up until now (though in the case of Ontario's new policy it should act to stop or remedy that). Not that many years ago I remember the Montreal students' protests but I haven't followed up on whether it made a difference long term.

    I wonder if in Canada, or at least in some provinces, the trend towards higher education costs has reached a point where it will either plateau or reverse (with government assistance to students, to schools, or otherwise) and we'll see another generation where education for kids would become cheaper than for their parents.
     
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  5. wild goose chase

    wild goose chase Active Member

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    I actually thought that European school systems were designed to be more practical -- such as deciding a career path to go into right out of or in high school and then focusing on studies related to that path alone, and not having the North American set-up where we have our students take more general education studies for exploration or well-roundedness in undergrad. I know many professional programs (eg. medical schools) are actually shorter in European countries than here and often don't involve four years of undergrad first.
     
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  6. King of Kensington

    King of Kensington Senior Member

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    Most of the "gen ed" stuff people do in university in North America are covered in high school in the UK and Europe.

    A British degree is 3 years - but you study exclusively your subject. For a long time a British BA was considered near equivalent to a masters in the US (medical degrees are 6 years though).
     
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  7. TOareaFan

    TOareaFan Superstar

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    I got the fact that they are making it free for low income folks....what have they done towards the bolded part though?
     
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  8. wild goose chase

    wild goose chase Active Member

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    Low income folks are affected the most I suppose, but I was just referring to the fact that they said others like middle-income, married and mature students will also get at least some benefits, if not as big.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-budget-tuition-college-university-1.3464505

    "The new system would also make tuition more affordable for students from middle-income families, the Liberals say. More than 50 per cent of students from families grossing $83,000 or less will be eligible for non-repayable grants totaling more than the average college or university tuition under the new system."

    "In addition to the new grant, the province plans to increase financial aid for mature and married students and reduce the amount parents and spouses are expected to contribute. It will also cap the maximum yearly OSAP debt level at $10,000 for high-income students."
     
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  9. Northern Light

    Northern Light Senior Member

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    In general, I favour a move towards 'free' post-secondary, though not in the way its being done currently.

    The basic argument in favour of such a system is obviously one of social mobility and maximizing each person's potential contribution to society.

    There are, however, legitimate questions on 'affordability' and whether we have too many folks getting B.A.s

    ***

    I would address that by saying, if we eliminated Canada RESPs and all other education tax credits, scholarships (for non-PhD programs), buraries, and loans, I believe
    we have the full amount necessary to wipe out under-grad and community college tuition with no net new money. (anyone whose has specific numbers/studies feel free to verify or dispel my assumption)

    In which case the only discussion (about affordability) is around how many more students such a program might attract.

    It should be said, our schools would be under no obligation to add spaces, and one could treat this as simple a 'playing field' leveler.

    However, some additional study places would probably make sense, providing people academically qualify for what they wish to study.

    ***

    The argument about perpetual students could be a concern; but one could limit this by applying the 'free' to a set number of credits or programs over a lifetime or over any 'x' number of years, or by imposing an age limit.

    In the latter case say, you must have graduated HS in preceding three years, (prior to first entry), and in any event by no older than 21 (again first entry) and no more 'free' after you turn 26.

    I'm not saying I favour that model, but it does address the eternal student issue.

    ****

    Ultimately, to me, though I favour social equity causes, I find the compelling case for 'free' tertiary education to be that its cheaper than administering a plethora of credits, loans, grants, scholarships, bursaries and so on.
     
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  10. ADRM

    ADRM Senior Member

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    Agree with a lot of what's here, but keying in on one specific item: I much prefer the Canadian approach to not pursuing a specific career path as early as is done in some European countries. I completed my BA in Ontario and my Master's in the UK, so know a bit about each system.

    The main point is that I think 15-18-year-olds very rarely know what they want to do with their lives, and that's borne out in my own experience, as I changed majors twice during my undergrad alone. Pigeonholing young adults so early in their lives seems like a great way to lead them towards unhappiness.

    I like the system we've got.
     
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  11. Admiral Beez

    Admiral Beez Senior Member

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    In Germany, they choose who gets to go to university on ability, not wealth. However they stream out the thick, touched and underperforming kids in Grade 3 and again at high school entry. One of my good friends is a doctor in Germany, and his entire education, including medical degree, was paid for by the state. But he had to work very hard to get accepted, and as a doctor he is a state employee (not an entrepreneur /contractor billing the gov't in the Canadian model) he makes about 90,000 Euros, less than half of what his North American colleagues at Sick Kids would make (my friend's a pediatric specialist). So, it's a trade off, free education, but harder to get, with a lower pay due to state employee status.

    The question is, what becomes of the kids who streamed out in Grade 3? And does Ontario have the strength to admit that some kids shouldn't be going to university? Here on UT we always seem to fall back on Europe as a demonstration of what we want to become, with drug policies, cycling, transit, and now free university, but we then likely don't like how they get to that free university model, i.e. streaming.
     
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  12. NorthWill

    NorthWill New Member

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    I don't believe there's anything wrong with establishing course-grade prerequisites for education, adjusted based on capacity to provide such education, but otherwise I don't believe government should be allowed to influence a persons' educational or professional ambitions.
     
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  13. kEiThZ

    kEiThZ Senior Member

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    Canadian education is already of rather middling quality with the exception of a few institutions. Making it "free" will only make it worse.

    What we need are not more 'free' university degrees. What we need is an education system that offers educational pathways for every skill level. The Europeans have 'free' university. But a good proportion of their young people are streamed to internships and their version of community college.

    I actually met one of the previous Liberal education ministers at a conference once. I made the above point. And surprisingly he agreed with me. And then proceeded to tell me that none of my suggestions were implementable because the middle class would never tolerate a reduction in university admission rates.

    Was surprised he was so frank. But I guess that's reality. As a society, we'd rather have more unemployable graduates with faux middle class credentials than actually competent and skilled workers who can draw in great wages.
     
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  14. kEiThZ

    kEiThZ Senior Member

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    I have relatives in Austria. The alternative there are internships. Essentially you are taken on by a company and you do a 4 year internship. Every year, the company has to give around 6-10 weeks off and you go to the local community college to learn skills relevant to your job. For example, the two I know are office workers, so their four year program was something like this:

    Year 1: The MS Office Suite, computer file management, etc.
    Year 2: Basic accounting and bookkeeping.
    Year 3: Basic HR.
    Year 4: Basic Resource management and tracking.

    That was enough for the places they worked. And commiserate with the training, the companies also added responsibilities and pay. The major difference between North America and Europe though, is cultural. Interns are seen as cheap (or even free) labour here. Over there interns are seen as the next generation to be cultivated. Professionals take pride in mentoring those young interns. And in many places, it's actually part of your job tasks and performance standards. Imagine a director or VP here having part of his pay assessed on how well he trained the interns.
     
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  15. AlvinofDiaspar

    AlvinofDiaspar Moderator

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    This - also the funny thing is that it's easier to make a decent middle-class living through trades than McJobs enabled by a generic university degree. And it is somewhat ironic that the private sector complains about poorly skilled workers (which they could very well be) after they had basically dumped the responsibility for training them entirely on the shoulders of government.

    AoD
     
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