The Racialised Impact of Tuition Fees
Mainstream policy wonks often claim that tuition fees and rising levels of student debt in Canada are relatively inconsequential. They argue that though the costsÂ of higher education for students (and sometimes their families) are increasing, so is post-secondary enrollment, meaning that raising the cost of post-secondary education clearly doesn’t block access.
While enrollment is indeed rising, the increases in costs do not appear to affect all groups equally. Back in March 2010, for example, the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario released a report entitled The Racialised Impact of Tuition Fees.Â Among other things, the report argues that students from racialised groups are more likely than students from non-racialised groups to require student loans toÂ pay forÂ their post-secondary education. What’s more,Â the formerÂ incur heavier debt loads thanÂ the latter.
Along similar lines, I’ve recently come across some 2005 U.S. data that further substantiates the thrust of the CFS report. The American data show that, for PhD graduates south of the border, race indeedÂ makes a difference. Here’s a chart I’ve reproduced from the data:
Average education-related debt for doctorate recipients, by race, 2005
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.