Globe and Mail

Why Premier Wynne is wrong to lament tuition isn’t free

By April 2, 2016March 18th, 2020No Comments

In the last Ontario budget Premier Kathleen Wynne brought free tuition to lowish-income students and in an interview lamented that she couldn’t make it free for everyone. I beg to disagree. I get everything that the advocates of zero tuition are saying about their desire to improve access to PSE and yet I still don’t think that the evidence shows that free tuition is the answer to the problem of access. For example:

  • We have a far better record at getting people into PSE than other countries that have free tuition (e.g. Germany and France).
  • I do not see the case for subsidising equally the children of billionaires and welfare recipients.
  • Subsidizing tuition out of general tax revenues makes poor people subsidise those who will be wealthy.

Finally Queens did a very interesting study a few years ago in which they compared the impact of lower tuition across the board vs putting it up but reserving 30% of the increase for scholarships and bursaries for low income students with good academic records. The second option was found to be significantly better than the first at improving access and equity.

To see more of the argument, have a look at my Globe column of March 18th, 2016.