Nov. 17, 2004 - Issue #474: Planet Simpson
As I perused the internet last week, I came across an poll being conducted
by macleans.ca that I found rather interesting. It asked, "Do you think the
price of post-secondary education will pay in benefits to your
life?"—and more than 75 per cent of the people who responded said yes,
the cost of their education would pay off down the road. I must admit that it
was reassuring to see such a large majority respond in the affirmative;
really, we hear so much about the prohibitively rising costs of
post-secondary education in this country that it might even seem downright
shocking to read that students are still confident that the price of
education is reflective of the dividends it will return. But there it was,
albeit in moderately reliable online poll form: for many students in Canada,
the financial risk of a post-secondary education is still worth the
Now, myself, I would agree with that statement, although there are certainly many who would not. During the University of Alberta Students’ Union’s annual tuition protests, I’ve heard it said that tuition rates over the past decade have spiraled out of control, to the point where prospective students from low-income families can no longer afford an education. While I do agree that the province could be doing more to offset the cost of schooling and would support a tax hike in order to support this, I nonetheless feel this argument that high costs naturally equal inaccessibility is a problematic one.
At around $4,000 a year to attend the U of A, there’s little debate as to whether or not the cost of education is high, but there are loan systems in place to ensure that everyone has access to this education. Students seem to realize that education is a worthwhile investment, and they’re right: a post-secondary education is so valuable in today’s society that it seems worth every penny of debt it takes to procure it. Debt, after all, is far from an alien concept: things with value cost money, and sometimes we want things that we can’t afford at the moment we want them. This, tragically, is a fact of life; the best we can do is make sure that we’re getting our money’s worth.
I, like many other students in Canada, went into debt to get my degree, but I, like many graduates, am happy with the returns of my education. While I do support students who lobby for lower tuition rates, I don’t agree with the assertion that these costs make education inaccessible. In the end, accessibility is determined by one’s willingness to accept the costs. And the costs, in the end, are worth it. V
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