Stephen Gordon: How to get more Canadians into university? Don’t reduce tuition fees

Stephen Gordon, National Post, Jan 27, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

This is an old (old old old) argument, yet it gets trotted out every once in a while by some economist. The perpetrator in this case is Stephen Gordon from Laval. Here's the gist: higher-income students form the majority at universities, so higher-income students would benefit disproportionately from tuition fee reductions, therefore, fees should not be reduced. If we apply the same logic to caviar, we can see the flaw: yes, the higher-income caviar-eaters would benefit, but with a lower price, more people would eat caviar, especially from among the lower-income strata. Gordon's argument is based on pretending that price is not a deterrent to lower-income students (he distracts us by pointing to the greater impact of lost wages), but of course, while no single price reduction is sufficient, all forms of price reduction are necessary. Of course, as a university professor, Gordon already knows all this, so the real question here is, why is he writing, and the Post publishing, such tripe?

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