A real advantage


Tuition fees are outdated and create unfair barriers to higher education in the New Saskatchewan

We should not have to pay to get an education.

To hear the Saskatchewan Party talk, our province is experiencing a boom unrivalled in its history and we should all thank Premier Brad Wall for this economic miracle. However, it is becoming noticeable that post-secondary education at our universities is not a priority for the government, even if they claim that it is. Since the Sask. Party constantly brags about how prosperous our province is right now, it only makes sense that we would at least consider eliminating tuition for students and making education more accessible for more people who might not normally be able to afford it.

The idea of free tuition has been tossed around, as far as I can tell, since the 1960s. Contemporary Quebec students, despite sometimes mixing their messages and acting immaturely, are demanding the same thing from their government. We already have free elementary and secondary school. So why is it such a radical notion that an undergraduate degree be free as well?

The old argument that if students pay for their education they will do better in school because they won’t want to waste their money is simply not true, either. If tuition was free, it is highly unlikely that grades would drop at all. If anything, they might increase as otherwise-distracted students can focus on their studies rather than having to hold full-time employment to pay for tuition, rent, food, transportation, and the various other everyday expenses students incur. Plus, any student that chooses to go to university would be there because they wanted to be there, not because they have to be there. Money does not determine how hard a student will work.

Free tuition is not an idea unique to Saskatchewan. Most states in Germany have free tuition, and the states that do charge tuition charge almost nothing. The argument that providing free tuition to everyone would bankrupt even our supposedly super-wealthy province is straight-up bullshit considering that Germany is single-handedly keeping the European Union afloat with its economic power. It works for Germany, why can’t it work here?

If we really have a “Saskatchewan Advantage” we have to examine what exactly that advantage should look like. Should it be selling out our province’s non-renewable resources for pennies on the dollar? Should it be putting advanced education further and further out of the reach of young people and people less fortunate than us? Should our government’s commitment to making Saskatchewan better for everyone really end with road upgrades, a new roofless stadium, and tacky “Saskatchewan Advantage” signs? I don’t think so.

Moving to eliminate tuition should be a priority of our province. We can lead the country in this endeavour if we place some importance on it, and we can attract motivated people from across Canada to move here to study and eventually settle which will contribute to an even better, more diverse, and ultimately more prosperous Saskatchewan. Whether the current Sask. Party government believes we are capable of doing truly great things that lead the nation forward is another question.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

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