Time to fight entitlement, not tuition
May 14, 2012
Imagine the hardships Quebec students striking against the province’s proposed post-secondary tuition increase have had to endure these past few months.
It must be tough juggling that soy latte and shiny new iPod while holding “free tuition” signs.
In reality, it’s hard to feel sympathy for the so-called plight of these Quebec students who already pay the lowest tuition in the country — less than half the national average. Even with the proposed increase, tuition will still be lower than in most other provinces.
The only students I feel bad for are the ones who want to be in school and graduate but haven’t been able to attend class because of the standoff between the Quebec student groups and the government.
Student organizations leading the charge probably liken themselves to the major social movements of the 60s and 70s. Except back then, people were fighting for things like equal pay and civil rights, not cheaper tuition when it’s already heavily subsidized.
Some students are demanding tuition should be “free” — of course, it isn’t really free because taxpayers foot the bill. Post-secondary education should be affordable and accessible, and students should get value for tuition increases. But what’s wrong with expecting students to contribute to their education?
Society benefits from educating people — but the degree-holder benefits, too. Students are the ones getting the credentials that help them land good paying jobs.
I recently completed a law degree, and while my tuition was subsidized by the government, I paid a good chunk of it. And there’s nothing wrong with that because ultimately, I’m the one who’ll be benefiting from all those billable hours.
Paying tuition helps students value their education more because they’ve invested in it. What does it say about how much you value your education when you aren’t willing to pay a dime for it?
The system should also incentivize students to complete their degrees and get jobs. In countries like Germany, where tuition is free, the perma-student is a common breed. Students will go back for multiple victory laps and collect degrees like a kid collects baseball cards. Hey, when it’s free, why not?
And then there’s the claim that people have a ‘human right’ to study things like 17th Century poetry for four years. It’s no wonder we have degree inflation when they’re treated like an early adulthood souvenir.
Our generation has it pretty darn good. Maybe we should be fighting against entitlement, not tuition.