The CSU opposes increased tuition

During the Quebec Ministry of Education’s hearing on education, Concordia proposed a 144 per cent increase in tuition fees to meet the Canadian average—$5,329 per year.

The administration’s decision to increase tuition neglected any sort of discussion between the actual students; hence, the CSU is forced to take a pragmatic position against increases in tuition fees.

The debate over tuition fees revolves around quality, adequate funding, and accessibility. It has become rhetoric for university administrations to call for a tuition fee increase to address the issue of underfunding.

The real questions remain unanswered: are Quebec universities truly suffering from underfunding or bad governance? Should students be overloaded with insurmountable debt, or could other revenue streams be sought to compliment tuition? Is competition between universities healthy or destructive?

According to the federal Ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development, highly skilled occupations will represent nearly 70 per cent of new jobs from 2006 to 2015, as Quebec transitions to a knowledge-based economy. The Ministry of Education has observed that from 1990 to 2007, jobs occupied by people with university education increased by over 109 per cent, while jobs occupied people without a high school diploma has dropped over 41 per cent for the same period.

University graduates’ employment rate is 88.1 per cent against 61 per cent for people without a high school diploma. A 2004 Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation study estimated that university graduates paid 33 per cent of income tax while receiving 9.1 per cent of government aid.

In 2009-2010 Concordia required its undergraduate students to pay $855.70 per year in auxiliary fees—$266.08 more than the Quebec average! While the administration is calling for higher tuition, what guarantee do we have that the extra fees will not end up funding other provincial ministries, or line the pockets of those calling for students to pay more, more fore even more?

A higher education is necessary for today’s worker to be competitive in the job market. In a recent study on accessibility to post-secondary education, the Quebec Ministry of Education stated, “not surprisingly, tuition fees have a negative effect on the probability to register.”

The Concordia Student Union believes in affordable and accessible quality education where students are not selected on the basis of social standing but on their willingness to learn and help build a better world. The time has come for you to join your student union in its efforts to preserve your rights.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 03, published August 31, 2010.