All Posts Tagged With: "tuition fees"
Students need to be able to test out university
The worst-kept secret in academia is that students come to university with inadequate intellectual preparation. They don’t know the basics. They don’t know how to write. They’re not prepared for how much work it’s going to be.
So when professors like me see studies like this one which suggests that one of the main reasons for students dropping out is a lack of preparedness, well, let’s just say we’re not shocked. It’s nice to have the hard data, but still.
The real question is: what can be done? One answer might be to get secondary schools to do a better job of preparing students for university in the first place. Many of my students regularly report that their high school English classes, for instance, are not just lacking in challenge—they’re a joke.
No Money Down tuition proposals make sense
Sometime in the mid-1990s, when I was a doctoral student at the University of Waterloo, I ended up chatting with a couple of very energetic student advocates who stopped by my office. Waterloo was at that time going through some kind of vote regarding their student union and earnest activists were everywhere.
Then, as now, the topic of how to deal with rising tuition fees was in the air, and I noted that I had been intrigued by what was then commonly called “income-contingent” loan repayment. The basic idea was that you could borrow what you needed through the regular venues of student loans, but then when it came time to repay the loans, the rate at which you had to repay would depend on how much money you were making at the time.
Intense debate in Quebec’s National Assembly
Sweeping legislation to get students back to classes while restoring order to Montreal is being debated again today in the Quebec’s National Assembly after a marathon session last night.
If Bill 78 is made law, police could fine student groups, labour union officials, and individuals who prevent an enrolled student from attending classes at a university or CEGEP. Despite court injunctions, protesters have frequently blocked students from legally attending classes this year. On Wednesday, protesters stormed into UQAM where some stood on desks shouting “scabs.”
Demonstrations within 50 metres of a higher education institution would fall under the act.
The law would also require people organizing a demonstration of 50 or more to inform police eight hours in advance. They would also need to provide certain details of their plans.
Individuals who violate the law would be fined $1,000 to $5,000 per day. Student leaders would face fines of up to $35,000. Student and labour union employees could be charged up to $125,000.
Province increases university funding despite deficit
Newfoundland and Labrador will soon take the crown as the cheapest place to study, despite a deficit budget that includes job cuts and that will cause provincial net debt to rise by $1-billion to $8.5-billion by March 2013.
Tuesday’s budget includes $44 million for Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic to prevent them from raising tuition fees, which averaged $2,649 in the fall of 2011.
The province will soon have the lowest fees in Canada. Nationwide, university fees averaged $5,366 in 2011, according to Statistics Canada.
You’re angry. We get it. Now offer some constructive ideas.
A group of students staged another pedantic tuition protest last week at the office of Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of Training Colleges and Universities.
The daylong “occupation,” attended by executives from Canadian Federation of Students locals, was to protest the five per cent tuition increase expected in the fall. Armed with recycled chants and glossy placards, the group of about 20 people shut down operations for the day.
To those students, I say “well done.” Yes, if your aim was to give the minister a day out of the office, or if you sought to expedite public exhaustion with student foot-stomping, you likely succeeded. I just hope you weren’t pining for actual change to Ontario’s tuition structure.
Protests underway from coast to coast
Today, students from Memorial University of Newfoundland to the University of British Columbia are participating in the National Day of Action organized by the Canadian Federation of Students.
Through marches and on social media, they’re promoting the idea that Education is a Right.
Their explicit demands are for lower tuition fees, less student debt and more public funding.
The CFS says that the average student with debt owes $25,000 by graduation and that public funding has dropped from 81 per cent of operating costs of universities 20 years ago to 57 per cent today—all while tuition has risen from 14 per cent of operating funding to more than 35 per cent.
In other words, students are paying more of their own costs for university than ever before, which makes it difficult for low and middle-income students to get through school and then pay off debts.
Peggy Nash, a candidate for the New Democratic Party’s leadership has already tweeted in solidarity and provided a link to her Plan to make Post-Secondary Education Accessible.
In Newfoundland, which already has among the lowest tuition anywhere, conservative Premier Kathy Dunderdale attended a National Day of Action event this morning and said that, during her lifetime, she’d like to see students’ first degrees paid for by the province, reports VOCM radio.
Tuition is a deal. School spirit is an experience.
For Manitoban students, international study doesn’t require a transoceanic flight.
Manitoba has a 20-year-old reciprocity agreement with the State of Minnesota and at least 21 Canadians are currently studying at campuses of the highly-regarded University of Minnesota.
Students react swiftly with copycat site
Quebec’s Liberal government has launched a new website to convince students of the fairness of the annual $325 tuition fee increase that will bring tuition to $3,793 in 2016-17.
Student groups cried foul last week when they learned that Quebec had budgeted $50,000 for Internet advertising, including some that attempts to re-route Internet users to the governments’ site whenever they search the names of activist organizations on Google, reported La Presse.
Tens of thousands of students protested the Charest governments’ increase last week, despite the fact that Quebec will continue to have some of the lowest fees in North America even after the rise.
Tuition rally fizzles
Despite having 4,000 police ready in case the protest got out of hand, Scotland Yard says that only about 2,500 protesters showed up for a mass rally against high tuition fees in London, U.K. Organizers, on the other hand, told Sky News that 10,000 showed up, though they hoped more would have joined. After all, more than 50,000 marched with the same demands in the summer, during which protesters smashed the windows of the Conservative party’s headquarters.
At today’s protest, students carried placards denouncing the government’s policy that allowed tuition fees to rise to $14,500 at many schools. Some showed their middle finger as they passed the London Stock Exchange. Twenty were arrested by 4 p.m. local time, police told The Telegraph.
Police had warned on Monday that they would use rubber bullets and batons if necessary to quell violent protesters. Twitter users blamed police intimidation for the lower-than-expected turnout.
News comes as study reveals rapidly growing tuition rates
As some American students continued their Occupy protests on Wednesday, President Barack Obama was being cheered by other students in Colorado where he announced he will speed up his initiatives to help students overcome debt.
“We should be doing everything we can to put college education within reach for every American,” the President said in what CNN describes as a “campaign-style event.”
Obama announced that a program to limit the repayment of federal student loan debt to 10 per cent of discretionary income will start next year, instead of the year after. And he said that students will be able to consolidate public and private loans to save on interest charges.
Who gets the highest marks?
The Canadian Federation of Students has released a report card for each of the four party leaders who hope to be premier of Ontario after the Oct. 6 election. They graded them on tuition fees, funding, research and student debt.
The CFS has long lobbied for lower tuition fees. Here’s how the parties were graded on that measure: The Liberals and Progressive Conservatives got Fs for tuition, because “the Liberals have increased fees by up to 59% since 2006,” and because “the PCs have not made any commitments to regulate, freeze or reduce tuition fees,” writes the CFS. They gave the New Democrats a B, because “the NDP has promised to freeze college, undergraduate and graduate tuition fees if elected.” The Greens got a C+ for their plan is to freeze tuition fees and then allow them to grow with the rate of inflation.
Overall, they gave the Liberals a C+, the PCs a D, the New Democrats a B+ and the Greens a B-.
It’s worth noting that students care about more than just education issues. In a poll for the Historica-Dominion institute before the federal election in April, students were asked to rank their top concerns. Only 18 per cent put “paying for my post-secondary education” in their top-three list. Health care, military and economic conerns were all ranked significantly higher by those polled.
Prof. Pettigrew explains the basics of grad school
Even if you’ve just started university, you may already be wondering what graduate school is all about. By “graduate school” I don’t mean professional programs like law or medicine or education; I’m talking about continuing your studies in the same academic discipline you’re majoring in now, like Anthropology or Physics at the master’s level. Obviously, every school and program will have unique features, and you should do your own research to decide where to go and what to take. But here are a few thoughts to help you decide whether a graduate degree may be right for you in the first place.
1. Is it hard to get into a graduate program?
Yes. Graduate programs will often give a minimum requirement for admission (say a B or a B-) but in reality, the standards are usually much higher. You will generally need at least an A- average.
Fees are up 4.3 per cent this fall: Statistics Canada
There tends to be a lot of talk this time of year about how high tuition fees have become. This year, the debate has been especially loud, because it is an election issue in more than one province.
And that was before Statistics Canada revealed today that tuition is up 4.3 per cent over last year to an average of $5,366 for undergraduates. Inflation is estimated at 2.7 per cent, which means tuition costs are growing faster than most prices.
The obvious problem with high fees is that no one likes to pay them. And when the issue is raised by politicians, it’s usually raised in terms of access: the economically disadvantaged won’t or can’t seek higher education if the price tag is too high. Research has suggested that children from lower-income families are less likely to go to university than richer students, but why that’s the case is a complex mix of social and economic factors, actual cost being just one, according to this study by Statistics Canada. As conservative commentators have noted, even now where tuition is highest, participation rates remain relatively high even among low-income students.
Students back university, criticize lack of provincial bursary support
The majority of McGill MBA students support the program’s high tuition, according to a survey released by the MBA Student Association on Friday.
The release comes just days after the provincial government announced it would be fining McGill $2.1 million for raising MBA tuition without permission. Fees in the program rose from $3,400 to $29,500 last fall. The university has refused provincial funding for the program since the increase.
According to the student association, 70 per cent of those surveyed said that “the program is at a reasonable or below reasonable price.”
Students in the program are no longer eligible for provincial bursaries, in an interview about that issue last month, the president of the MBA Student Association, Pat Tenneriello, told me that the majority of students support the increase “because we see the investment.”
According to the student association, new professors have been hired and the program has already improved in international rankings.
The student association also used the release of the survey to criticize the lack of bursary support. “Our decision to pay the market price for our education should not affect our ability to receive funding in support of our endeavours to become future industry leaders within Quebec,” the release says.
While the Quebec government continued to thaw the tuition freeze in Thursday’s budget, tuition fees for provincially funded programs will still be assessed at a standardized per-credit rate.
Provincial budget also includes increased funding for universities
Tuition fees will rise by $325 a year, over five years, beginning in fall 2012. The increase will bring the cost of full-time studies to $3,793 per year, for Quebec residents. Full-time students currently pay $2,168 a year.
While the timing is a little different, the increase is pretty much exactly what the heads of the province’s universities have been asking for.
Predictably, student groups have condemned the increase. The Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, the more radical of Quebec’s two main student lobby groups, described the budget as a “declaration of war against students.”
Quebec’s Finance Minister, Raymond Bachand, told the National Assembly that the increase will return tuition fees to 1968 levels, adjusted for inflation. Tuition fees in the province have been frozen for 33 of the past 43 years. Even after the full increase, Quebec’s tuition rates will still be 30 per cent lower than the current Canadian average, according to Bachand.
According to Bachand, the province’s universities will have access to an additional $850 million in annual funding by 2016-17, though that figure includes an estimated increase in donations, so it may not be exactly accurate. Direct provincial funding is set to increase over the next six years, starting with a $74 million increase this year and reaching $430 million in additional funding for 2016-17.
Student aid funding is also set to increase. Student loans will remain the same and all new aid will come in the form of bursaries. The province is also reducing the contribution that parents are expected to make in student aid calculations but the student lobby has criticized this, saying that it’s really just a cost of living adjustment.
The province also intends to establish “performance targets [for universities] regarding the quality of training, student services, the graduation rate and the intensification of their research activities” as well as financial management.
All in all, it’s a very middle of the road Jean Charest government budget. Quebec’s left is criticizing things like the tuition increases for going too far, while the right is criticizing them for not going far enough.
The other key take-away is that most of the big spending that was announced today isn’t actually scheduled to happen for several years. So while the government may be saying that they’re going to increase university funding by $430 million, the funding increases won’t even be close to that level for years. Unlike tuition fees which are scheduled to increase at a steady rate, the increase in university funding starts off slowly, with the biggest jump planned for 2014-2015.
My final thought on the budget, and this is a bit of an aside, is that despite its faults, the Quebec government does an excellent job of making public documents easily available online. By 4 p.m., the time Bachand’s speech to the National Assembly began, all the budget documents were available online in English and French.
They don’t agree on where it should come from
The heads of Quebec’s 18 universities are required to appear before the committee every three years. For the most part the presentations, and their accompanying reports, focus on things like student population, the number of professors, new programs and research accomplishments. However, this year’s presentations were marked by calls from McGill, Concordia and Université de Montréal for tuition hikes.
Because the report is the product of a multi-party committee, the few recommendations it does present are rather vague. More often the committee says it hopes that solutions can be found to the problems facing Quebec’s universities but stops short of making recommendations. But there are some interesting things in the report.
The committee found that there was a “strong consensus” from university directors that Quebec’s university system is under-funded and that this is making it difficult for them to do their jobs properly.
However university administrators are divided on where that money should come from. While some suggested tuition hikes, others disagreed, calling for more government funding or private sector involvement. The issue of accessibility also came up frequently in connection with discussions of tuition. All of the directors agreed that accessibility is important but they disagree on how to ensure it and how it relates to tuition increases.
While the director of HEC Montreal, Michel Patry, said that ensuring accessibility shouldn’t get in the way of ensuring long term quality, the director of the École nationale de l’administration public, Marcel Proulx, told the committee that the issue of accessibility is inseparable from tuition.
The issue of differentiated tuition also came up, currently all provincially-funded university programs in Quebec charge the same tuition fees, and again there was no consensus. Even among the universities calling for tuition increases there wasn’t total support for differentiated fees, with former Concordia president, Judith Woodsworth calling them “risky” and “dangerous.”
The only recommendation made by the committee in relation to finances was a call for Ottawa to increase funding for the indirect costs of research, things like lab maintenance and ensuring safety standards.
The committee called for the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities, a lobby group that represents all the universities in the province, to develop standardized performance indicators for universities.
As well, the committee recommended that universities make efforts to encourage people to stay in school at the high school and CEGEP levels as well as once they enter university.
And, this being Quebec, language also came up. At issue is the fact that some French-language schools are providing courses in English and other languages. The committee recommends that francophone universities put “clear guidelines” in place if they plan on teaching in languages other than French.
Students need to get real if they want to be taken seriously
Some political savants participating in the Canadian Federation of Students’ Day of Action decided it would be a good idea to wheel a guillotine into a crowd and stage a mock execution as a way to protest tuition fees.
The demonstration—which can only be described as one of the most sensible and appropriate of its kind—was captured in a video shot by the ‘fax, a news channel run by the journalism students at University of King’s College. The clip shows members of a political street theatre troupe setting up a guillotine emblazoned with the sign, “The Cuts We’d Like To See.” One fellow proceeds to chant, “NDP, Liberal, Tory—same damn story,” while his comrades bang drums and cheer. He then flops a dummy on the guillotine—a dummy, which, I’m assuming, is supposed to be representative of some political figure—and leads the crowd in a few rounds of “They all must go! They all must go!” Yes, you’re watching a protest taking place in Canada.
The blade drops, unfortunately proving itself faulty as it fails to sever the head of its fee-happy victim. No fear—an executioner swoops in to manually break the neck and drop the head in the basket. And the crowd erupts in whoops and cheers. Beautiful, isn’t it?
The crowd assembled February 2 to protest, among other things, the rising cost of tuition and the expiration of a fee freeze on March 31. According to reports, more than one thousand students gathered from various Halifax universities to demonstrate against the rising cost of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia. The issue, of course, I can understand. How a medieval decapitation device works into the equation—well, there I’m having a bit more trouble.
For politicians to truly understand the financial pressures faced by students, there’s going to have to be some sort of dialogue. That dialogue is made immeasurably more difficult if students choose to stage these politicians’ preemptive deaths. And then, of course, there’s that nagging issue of the gross barbarity of the scene. These are not things we do in Canada. (Sorry, am I ‘Othering’?)
If students want political leaders to take them seriously, they need to start behaving seriously. That means no more mock executions, postcard bombardments, or other high style/low substance demonstrations. I hope not to see a public stoning, symbolic of corporate “blows” to education, at the next Student Day of Action.
Due to costs and tight labour market, going to law school may not pay off for a large number of students
The problem with having a two-week Christmas break right after exams is that the holiday comes smack in the middle of post-first-year-midterm malaise. Accordingly, when very well-meaning people would ask me how law school was going, my answer was usually any or all of me bursting into tears, straight up walking away while mumbling or looking them straight in the eye and saying something like “It’s totally not worth it.”
Apparently, had I wanted to back up my overly-emotional sentiment with some facts, I could have appealed to a rather unlikely ally: The American Bar Association.
Hidden deep on their website is this little four-page PDF gem that basically says that for almost half the people who go to law school, it’s totally not worth it to go to law school:
The combination of the rising cost of a legal education and the realities of the legal job market mean that going to law school may not pay off for a large number of law students.
Here are some of the most uplifting statistics (all American, by the way):
- The average public law student borrows $71,436 for law school
- The average private school student borrows $91,506
- Most American public law schools raised tuition this year by 10 to 25 per cent to make up for funding shortfalls
- In 2009, 42 per cent of law school grads had starting salaries of less than $65,000/year
It’s hard to argue with statistics, especially ones that paint a picture devoid of all sunshine. It’s also doubtlessly true that any potential students, law or otherwise, should do their research before applying and enrolling. But I still find the whole thing to be a little eyebrow raising.
For one, I’ve yet to meet a law student who did no research and simply applied to school because they thought a JD was some kind of golden ticket that would get them the super awesome apartment they saw on The Good Wife. It’s kind of insulting to potential law students, all of whom have financed at least one degree somehow, to be like “Spoiler alert, people: Law school is expensive.”
Moreover, it’s strange to me that the American Bar Association itself seems to be of the opinion that a law degree’s sole worth is grounded in its future earning potential. I know I gripe a lot about law school, but every day there is something that makes it worth it, and it has nothing to do with an imagined salary five years down the road. Law school is an aspirational gambit, and for nobody I know is the end game money. It’s also really hard, and I don’t believe you’d make it if the only thing pulling you through was the prospect of 50 Bentleys in the West Indies.
There are lots of good reasons for going, though, and it’s strange to me that those have all been skipped over in this little tome. Law school is full of interesting people and fascinating new facts and whole new worlds of things to become passionate about and people to be nerdy about learning around, not to mention a world of future careers at all kinds of pay grades. Maybe the ABA should spend a little more time advocating for that, or, heaven forbid, advocating for the cost of a legal education to go down a bit.
Province confirms plans to increase tuition but questions remain
The Quebec government held its big meeting of “education partners” on Monday and it pretty much went down exactly as expected: students held a large protest and the government reaffirmed their commitment to increasing tuition.
The only unexpected event of the day was when representatives from labour and student groups walked out of the meeting. While I didn’t see the walkout coming, I can’t say it was a surprise; these groups had already condemned the meeting and other student groups boycotted it. The reason for the walkout and the boycott, that the government came into the meeting with its mind already made up, does seem to have merit. At a press conference following the meeting, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand reminded reporters that the government had promised a tuition increase in last spring’s budget.
As for the protests, they were huge. I’ve been to a lot of tuition related protests in my time as a student journalist and without a doubt this was the biggest one I’ve ever covered. The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec protest, outside the hotel where the meeting took place, had numbers in the high hundreds all afternoon. For their part, the Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante had a larger protest, which started outside the National Assembly, across the street from the hotel, snaked its way through old Quebec and then back up to the hotel. It’s hard to come up with a number. I’d guess around 2,000 people, maybe more.
The big question now is what happens next. While the government has promised tuition increases it’s still not clear how much fees will rise or even when that will be announced.
The government has dropped some hints though. At the press conference on Monday, Bachand was echoing some talking points from the group that represents university administrators, saying that due to inflation students are now paying less than they were in 1968. The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities has called for tuition to increase by $500 a year over three years. An increase of that size would bring tuition fees for Quebec residents to just under $3,700, certainly a major increase but still less than the current national average.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee that this is what the government will do but if I were to put money on it, I’d bet that the government will put forward a similar plan.
CREPUQ has also called for significant increases to financial aid, with 25 per cent of funds raised through any increase being put towards grants and loans. While the government hasn’t offered any numbers on financial aid increases, they have promised to increase aid levels in conjunction with a rise in tuition.
How any increase will affect students from out of province also remains very unclear. Canadian students who are not Quebec residents already pay significantly more than Quebecers, over $5,600 a year. Those rates are already increasing faster than tuition for Quebec residents who have seen tuition rise by $100 a semester since 2007. It’s probably a given that out-of-province tuition will rise along with the Quebec resident rate but given that these fees are already the third highest for Canadians in the country, only Nova Scotia, which has a higher out-of-province rate and Ontario, which does not have separate rates based on provincial residency, have higher undergraduate fees.
Cost of education rises at more than double the rate of inflation
Students are paying higher tuition fees, which have increased at more than double the rate of inflation, according to Statistics Canada’s yearly round up of the cost of education, released yesterday. On average, Canadian undergraduate students will pay $5,138 in 2010-11 for one year of university, compared to $4,942 in 2009-10, a four per cent hike. The consumer price index rose by 1.8 per cent.
Across the country, there was significant variation in the tuition rate, which ranged from a low of $2,415 in Quebec to a high of $6,307 in Ontario. All but three provinces saw tuition increase to some extent. Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick saw no change in tuition fees and tuition in Nova Scotia declined (4.5 per cent) for the third year in a row.
Tuition fees for graduate students increased faster than for undergraduates, at 6.6 per cent. The national average for graduate school tuition is $5,182, ranging from a low of $2,456 in Newfoundland to a high of $7,350 in Nova Scotia. Although, like their undergraduate counterparts, Nova Scotia’s graduate students saw a decrease in fees of 4.5 per cent. In fact, all four Maritime provinces saw a reduction in tuition for graduate students this year. Master’s of Business Administration programs were the most expensive graduate programs at a national average of $21,118, and $28,773 for executive MBA programs.
As for professional programs, students in dentistry paid the highest average fees at $14,701, followed by medicine ($10,244) and pharmacy ($9,250). International undergraduate students also saw their tuition increase, at 5.2 per cent, bringing the average rate up to $16,768. Average tuition fees don’t encompass the total increase to the cost of education, as compulsory fees also rose this year to $702 from $656 in 2009-10.
Students groups were unimpressed with the continued trend towards higher tuition fees. The Canadian Federation of Students called Ontario’s status as the jurisdiction with the highest tuition rate, an “embarrassment” in a media release. “While students in Ontario pay the most, they experience the largest classes and are funded at the lowest per capita levels in Canada,” Sandy Hudson, who chairs the group’s Ontario branch, said.
Similarly, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), highlighted how the recession has placed financial constraints on students and their parents. “[S]tudents and families have fewer resources to pay for a post-secondary education as a result of the recession,” CASA’s national director Zach Dayler said.