Montreal, December 6, 2010 – As part of the next "meeting of education partners" on December 6 to discuss university financing and accessibility, the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) suggests allowing universities to set their own tuition fees and letting those fees vary according to program of study.
"Let’s hope that the coming discussions won’t get bogged down in arguments between those parties who favour a general increase in tuition fees and those who are adamantly opposed to any tuition ‘thaw’," said Michel Kelly-Gagnon, the MEI’s president and CEO.
As the MEI concluded in an Economic Note published last June, raising tuition fees does not reduce the accessibility of higher education. Despite significantly lower tuition fees in Quebec, the province’s university participation rate is right around the Canadian average. In Nova Scotia and Ontario, however, both tuition fees and university participation rates are higher.
Allowing universities to set their tuition fees according to the missions they have undertaken would make it possible to recognize the diversity present in Quebec establishments and would give students the opportunity to choose the option that suits them best. This is what currently happens in France, where low cost education exists side by side with the "great schools" (grandes écoles) offering very high level education and tuition fees to match.
Such a change in the way tuition fees are determined could be combined with a policy of student financial aid that is better targeted to students who really need it.
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The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its publications, media appearances and conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms. It does not accept any government funding.
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