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Is that university education really free?

May 2021

While Barrie Advance writer Christopher Mansour’s idea of giving Canadians a free university may sound appealing to young students just beginning their post-secondary education, just remember there is nothing free in life.

The university still gets paid their money.  If the money isn’t coming from the students themselves, then it’s from the taxpayers of each province.  Now, there are many things in our daily lives that the government funds, and education is just one of them.  Back in the mid-1970s, governments funded three-quarters of university tuition, with the students making up the other one-quarter.  Beginning in the 1990s, the government began reducing their portion, dropping to between 30% and 40% of the cost.

While it’s debatable just how much of the tuition costs should be borne by the student themselves, I believe that the students should be directly paying something.  It’s frankly human nature that if you have a financial interest in something, you tend to work harder to ensure the success of that venture.  

In other words, if a student isn’t paying anything to be at a university, there will always be the temptation to not care whether they pass their courses or not.  If they fail, they can just take it again because it won’t cost anything other than their time.  For some, there will be little incentive to graduate and go out into “the real world.”

We all know at least one student who didn’t care if they passed their courses or not, or stayed in school until well into their 30s, working on their fourth or fifth degree, with no real career ambitions, because mom & dad were paying their tuition.  Of course, I’m not talking about students who are working towards graduate degrees, or like a man whom I once met, who had both a medical degree and a law degree.

This is besides the fact that continual deficit financing by our provincial and federal governments have left them deeply in debt, with increasing demands for more and more money to fund public projects, along with government waste, further straining government resources.  

Anyone, from parents to young students, who want university to be “free” today, has to remember that taxpayers are going to have pay that bill one day, either through reduced government services, user fees for things that were one provided at no direct cost, or higher taxes that will further erode your already shrinking paycheque.

So, is that university education really free?


The original column that inspired this column:

LETTER: Post-secondary education should be free for domestic students, reader says – Barrie News (barrietoday.com)

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/is-that-university-education-really-free/

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