Bank Economist Proposes Higher Tuition Fees
A globeandmail.com article posted last night discusses a recent report on post-secondary educationÂ in Nova Scotia.Â The report itself, released yesterday, was writtenÂ by BMO’s former Chief Economist, Tim O’Neill.Â
According to the article, O’Neill’s report calls for “complete deregulation of tuition fees” in Nova Scotia.Â Moreover:
He believes that higher tuitions are more equitable because they force students, who are disproportionately from the upper strata, to bear a greater burden of the university cost. Under the current system, he argues, these students are subsidized by poorer taxpayers whose children do not attend university.
(O’NeillÂ appears to beÂ under the impression that Canada does not have a progressive taxation system.)
According to the article, O’Neill also argues that some of the increased revenueÂ resulting from higher tuition under his plan should then be allocatedÂ towards financial assistance to low-income students.Â
(I have bloggedÂ about the shortcomings of such targeted measures before.)
Also noteworthy, the article quotes Nova Scotia’s NDP premier, in response to theÂ report’s recommendations, as saying that “everything isÂ on theÂ table.”Â
I would like to note that, since the 1970s, university operating revenue from government grants has decreased very substantially in Canada.Â Moreover, in the past two decades, the ratio of full-time students to full-time faculty in Canada has increased significantly for both colleges and universities.Â In light of these developments, it isn’t clear to me why more “experts” don’t point the finger at senior levels of governmentÂ and recommendÂ increased funding, rather than pick on students.
UPDATE – A great op-ed written by theÂ president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers was published in the Chronicle Herald on October 1.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.