‘Too fixated on the price tag': Universities Canada president says tuition no barrier to education

Heide Pearson, Metro, Jun 23, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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If you wonder why I occasionally take a negative view of the traditional university system in these pages, it's because of statements like this. Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, speaking to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, said students are "'too fixated on the price tag' when it comes to tuition, and don’t consider supports available, such as scholarships, bursaries, financial aid from universities and income tax deductions." Most people do not qualify for scholarships, tax deductions only apply if you actually have an income, and the only reason to not fixate on the tuition price tag is to also pay attention to the ridiculous cost of books, housing, and other expenses incurred while studying. And that's in a good country, like Canada, where we do have a relatively accessible system. It's far out of reach to most people internationally. Here's a hint for the universities sector: start supporting students, figure out how to make the system accessible, and focus on the mission of improving education worldwide. Going to the Chamber of Commerce and criticizing your students is not on.

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