Transcript: Ontario Tuition Reform | Sep 15, 2016

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, pink shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario tuition reform."
Then, it adds "@spaikin, @theagenda"

Steve says LAST SPRING'S ONTARIO
BUDGET OVERHAULED HOW THE
PROVINCE WILL ALLOCATE STUDENT
AID, BEGINNING NEXT YEAR.
THE INTENTION, THE PROVINCE
SAYS, IS TO MAKE POSTSECONDARY
EDUCATION MORE ACCESSIBLE TO
STUDENTS FROM LOW INCOME
FAMILIES.
IN FACT, IT WAS PITCHED AS
"FREE."
TO EXAMINE THIS, AND CONSIDER
WHETHER IT SIGNALS NEW THINKING
ABOUT THE LEVEL OF EDUCATION
REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE IN
TODAY'S ECONOMY, WE WELCOME:
IN ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND, VIA SKYPE:
CHRISTINE ARNOLD, ASSISTANT
PROFESSOR IN THE FACULTY OF
EDUCATION, POST-SECONDARY
STUDIES, MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY...

Christine is in her early thirties, with long wavy blond hair in a ponytail. She's wearing a gray blazer.

Steve continues AND HERE IN STUDIO:
ALEX USHER, PRESIDENT, HIGHER
EDUCATION STRATEGY ASSOCIATES...

Alex is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short wavy gray hair. He's wearing a gray suit and white shirt.

Steve continues WE'RE HAPPY TO HAVE BOTH OF YOU
IN ST. JOHN'S AND HERE IN
TORONTO IN OUR STUDIO TODAY.
NICE TO MEET YOU BOTH.
LET'S JUST PUT ON THE RECORD
HERE SOME OF WHAT THE PROVINCE
OF ONTARIO IS TALKING ABOUT.
SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD?
LET'S BRING THIS UP.

A slate appears on screen, with the title "Ontario student grant. Reforming Postsecondary Aid."

Steve reads from the slate and says
THE ONTARIO STUDENT GRANT, IT
COMES INTO EFFECT IN 2017-18.
STUDENTS FROM FAMILIES EARNING
LESS THAN 50,000 dollars A YEAR WILL
RECEIVE GRANTS EQUIVALENT TO
ONTARIO'S AVERAGE TUITION.
MOST STUDENTS FROM FAMILIES
EARNING 83,000 dollars OR LESS WILL
ALSO RECEIVE FREE AVERAGE TUITION.
STUDENTS ARE EXPECTED TO
CONTRIBUTE 3,000 dollars PER YEAR
TOWARDS THEIR EDUCATION COSTS.
AND THERE IS AN 8-TERM MAXIMUM
FOR FULL-TIME STUDENTS TO CLAIM
THE GRANT AND 12 TERMS FOR
FULL-TIME STUDENTS WITH
DISABILITIES.
CHRISTINE, START US OFF.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "Christine Arnold. Memorial University."
Then, it changes again to "Focusing student aid."

Christine says SURE.
SO I THINK THAT THIS IS A
POSITIVE EXAMPLE OF
SIMPLIFICATION.
I THINK WHAT WE'RE SEEING HERE
IS WE HAD ROUGHLY 24 DIFFERENT
PROGRAMS FOR STUDENT ASSISTANCE
IN ONTARIO UNTIL THIS TIME, AND
THAT THIS IS A NICE BUNDLING OF
THE PROGRAMS.
WE'RE NOT NECESSARILY SEEING ANY
DIFFERENCE IN NEW INVESTMENT,
IT'S JUST THAT THEY'VE BEEN
PACKAGED DIFFERENTLY.
THERE'S MORE TRANSPARENCY AND
THERE'S DEFINITELY MORE
EFFICIENT TIMING.
WE'RE SEEING THAT STUDENTS ARE
ABLE TO SEE HOW MUCH THEY'RE
GOING TO OWE FOR TUITION AS WELL
AS GRANT MONEY UP FRONT, INSTEAD
OF WHAT WE'VE SEEN IN THE PAST
WHERE STUDENTS ACTUALLY PAY
THEIR TUITION, AND THEN RECEIVE
WHAT THEY WILL BE RECEIVING FROM
OSAP AFTER THE FACT.
ALSO WE'RE SEEING THE TUITION
AND EDUCATION TAX CREDITS HAVE
BEEN CUT AND THEY'VE BEEN PLACED
WITHIN THIS GRANT, AND I THINK
THAT'S NICE AS WELL FOR STUDENTS
BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT THEY
CAN SEE THIS RIGHT AWAY AND NOT
ACTUALLY HAVE TO SEE THIS MONEY
COME BACK LATER TO THEM, WHICH
CAN BE DIFFICULT TO ASSESS HOW
MUCH THAT WILL BE AND WHETHER OR
NOT THEY'LL RECEIVE IT WITHIN
THEIR TERM OF EDUCATION.

Steve says LET'S HOLD ON THERE
FOR ONE SECOND.
ALEX, LET ME GET YOU TO WEIGH IN.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE WAY
IT'S BEEN PACKAGED NOW?

The caption changes to "Alex Usher. Higher Education Strategy Associates."

Alex says I WOULD
ORIGINALLY ECHO WHAT CHRISTINE
HAS SAID.
THE ISSUE HAS NEVER BEEN THAT
ONTARIO DOESN'T SPEND A LOT OF
MONEY ON STUDENT AID.
ONTARIO SPENDS A LOT OF MONEY ON
STUDENT AID.
AND WHAT HAPPENED LAST MARCH
WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
DECIDED IT WAS GOING TO BE ABLE
TO DOUBLE THE SIZE OF ITS
GRANTS, ONTARIO WAS ABLE TO SAY,
WELL, ACTUALLY, WE CAN REJIG
SOME OF WHAT WE'RE DOING AND
CREATE A DIFFERENT KIND OF
PACKAGE FOR STUDENTS, ONE THAT
GIVES THEM MONEY UP FRONT, MAKES
IT MORE PREDICTABLE, AND
HOPEFULLY WILL CHANGE MINDS
ABOUT AFFORDABILITY.

Steve says DOES THE MONEY UP
FRONT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE IN
TERMS OF ATTRACTING PEOPLE TO IT?

Alex says I THINK IT DOES.
I SUSPECT IT HAS A LOT MORE TO
DO WITH THE CHOICE OF
INSTITUTION RATHER THAN WHERE
YOU GO.
PEOPLE DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO
GO TO POST SECONDLY USUALLY A
LONG TIME BEFORE THEY KNOW
ANYTHING ABOUT THE PRICE OR
STUDENT ASSISTANCE.
IT'S VERY DIFFERENT, AS
CHRISTINE SAID, YOU AGREE TO GO
TO AN INSTITUTION AND MAYBE YOU
GET STUDENT AID, IT'S A BLACK
BOX, YOU DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH
YOU'RE GOING TO GET.
AS OF 2018-19 YOU WILL GET THE
MESSAGE FROM YOUR INSTITUTION,
WELCOME TO WILFRID LAURIER, OUR
FULL-TIME TUITION IS 7,000 dollars,
HERE'S YOUR GRANT.
THAT COMPLETELY CHANGES THE
PSYCHOLOGY AROUND
DECISION-MAKING I THINK.

Steve says WHO DO YOU THINK,
CHRISTINE, ARE THE BIGGEST
BENEFICIARIES OF THIS?

Christine says SURE.
I THINK OUR LOW AND MIDDLE
INCOME STUDENTS ARE GOING TO BE
THE LARGEST BENEFICIARIES IN THE
SENSE THAT, AS ALEX STATED, IT'S
REALLY NICE THEY CAN SEE THIS
INFORMATION UP FRONT.
I THINK A LOT OF TIMES STUDENTS
FROM LOW INCOME FAMILIES HAVE
DIFFICULTY DETERMINING WHAT THE
COST OF EDUCATION ACTUALLY IS
AND HOW MUCH THEY WILL BE
PAYING.
AND IN THE PAST, OUR ONTARIO
STUDENT ASSISTANCE, IT WAS
ACTUALLY COUPLED, GRANTS AND
LOANS.
SO THE FACT THAT WE HAVE THAT
DECOUPLED NOW MEANS THAT THERE
MAY BE LESS WORRY OR HESITATION
FROM STUDENTS FROM LOW INCOME
FAMILIES TO INVEST IN EDUCATION,
KNOWING WHAT IT'S ACTUALLY GOING
TO COST AND HAVING THAT BE
TRANSPARENT AHEAD OF TIME.

Steve says WELL, OKAY.
ALEX, LET ME PLAY A BIT OF THE
CURMUDGEON HERE.
YES, BUT...
IT MAY BE THIS UP FRONT MONEY IS
GOING TO COVER TUITION.
LET'S SAY YOU'RE A STUDENT,
YOU'RE IN GRADE 12 RIGHT NOW,
LIVING IN RURAL ONTARIO.
YOU KNOW A HUGE CHUNK OF
WHATEVER EXPENDITURES YOU INCUR
TO GO TO POSTSECONDARY ARE GOING
TO BE PLAIN AND SIMPLY LIVING
EXPENSES, YOU'RE MOVING FROM
POTENTIALLY SOMEWHERE IN RURAL
ONTARIO, LET'S PICK UP THE
EXAMPLE OF WILFRID LAURIER
UNIVERSITY.
WHAT IF YOU'RE MOVING FROM NORTH
BAY TO KITCHENER-WATERLOO?
I MEAN, HOW DOES THAT HELP YOU THEN?

Alex says THAT'S AN
INTERESTING EXAMPLE, RIGHT?
NOW I WOULD SUGGEST YOU PROBABLY
HAVE THE CHOICE TO GO TO
WATERLOO, WHEREAS YOU MIGHT HAVE
JUST WANTED TO STAY IN NORTH BAY
AT NIPISSING, IF YOU DIDN'T
KNOW, THEN AT LEAST YOU WOULD
KNOW YOU COULD STAY AT HOME.
KNOWING YOU HAVE THE MONEY UP
FRONT GIVES YOU A LITTLE BIT
MORE CHOICE OF INSTITUTIONS.

Steve says IF YOU LIVED IN
BARRIE, WOULD IT BE ANY DIFFERENT?

Alex says WELL, YEAH.
YOU'RE GETTING MORE MONEY
UPFRONT.
IT'S NOT COVERING THE WHOLE
THING.
YOU ARE STILL GOING TO HAVE TO
COVER THAT AND MAYBE THAT IS
GOING TO COME THROUGH LOANS.
THERE ARE STILL GOING TO BE A
LOT OF LOANS IN THE SYSTEM.
AT THE SAME TIME WE'RE GIVING
STUDENTS MORE GRANTS, WE'RE ALSO
MAKING IT EASIER FOR THEM TO
BORROW.
THIS ISN'T NECESSARILY GOING TO
REDUCE STUDENT DEBT BECAUSE
STUDENTS HAVE MORE OPPORTUNITY
TO BORROW AS WELL.
IS IT A CURE-ALL?
DOES IT SERVE EVERYBODY?
NO, IT DOESN'T.
BUT IT SERVES AN AWFUL LOT OF
PEOPLE VERY WELL.

Steve says ANYBODY KNOW HOW
MANY ARE LIKELY TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THIS?

Christine says I KNOW
THEY SAID ALL STUDENTS WITH THE
50,000 dollars OF INCOME AND THEY SAID
HALF OF STUDENTS WHOSE PARENTAL
INCOME WOULD BE 36,000 dollars.

Steve says CHRISTINE, ABOUT
TWO-THIRDS OF ONTARIO'S ADULTS
HAVE SOME KIND OF POSTSECONDARY
CREDENTIALS THAT IS HIGHER OF
THE O.E.C.D. WHICH IS 56 percent,
APPARENTLY.
GIVEN THAT, DO WE REALLY HAVE AN
ACCESS TO POSTSECONDARY
EDUCATION PROBLEM IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO?

The caption changes to "Higher education for all."

Christine says I THINK
THAT THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF
ACCESS.
ONE IS HOW MANY GO AND THE
SECOND IS WHO.
SO I THINK WHEN WE LOOK AT
ACCESS, WE'RE LOOKING AT WHO.
WE DO HAVE ONE OF THE LARGEST.
AND THAT IS REALLY BECAUSE OF
OUR COLLEGE SYSTEM.
OUR COLLEGES ACTUALLY ENROL A
GREAT AMOUNT OF STUDENTS FROM
UNDERREPRESENTED BACKGROUNDS AND
STUDENTS FROM LOW INCOME
FAMILIES, AND I THINK WHAT'S
IMPORTANT HERE IS THAT WE DO
KNOW THAT STUDENTS FROM LOW
INCOME FAMILIES NOT ATTENDING IN
THE SAME VEIN AS OTHER STUDENTS.
SO IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE REACH
THOSE STUDENTS AND WE MAKE THEM
SEE THAT EDUCATION IS FOR THEM
AS WELL.
BUT NOT ONLY DO WE HAVE SUCH
HIGH ENROLMENT, IT'S IMPORTANT
OF THE FACT THAT IN ONTARIO
THAT'S BEEN THE CASE FOR THE
MOMENT, BUT THIS DOUBLE COHORT
IS DROPPING OFF, AND SO WE ARE
SEEING, WE NEED TO FILL IN THOSE
NUMBERS AND WE NEED TO REACH
THESE STUDENTS.

Steve says IF WE DO, THOUGH,
ALEX, HAVE A SITUATION WHERE
THERE ARE GRANTS AND THERE ARE
LOANS AND THERE ARE BURSARIES,
NOW WE'VE GOT THIS NEW THING,
FREE TUITION.
IS TUITION REALLY A PROBLEM IN
ONTARIO NOW?

The caption changes to "Alex Usher, @AlexUsherHESA"

Alex says I THINK TUITION
IS ONLY EVER A PROBLEM TO THE
EXTENT THAT PEOPLE THINK THEY
CAN'T AFFORD IT AND I THINK
THAT'S ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT
WE'VE HAD HERE, IS THAT WE'VE
BEEN VERY GENEROUS BUT WE'VE
BEEN VERY OPAQUE ABOUT THIS
GENEROSITY.
IF YOU CAN GIVE THIS MESSAGE UP
FRONT VERY EARLY, DON'T WORRY
ABOUT THE MONEY, GUYS, IT'S
THERE, I THINK THAT WILL MAKE A
DIFFERENCE.
I MEAN, TO YOUR POINT, DO WE
HAVE A PROBLEM?
COMPARED TO MOST JURISDICTIONS
IN THE WORLD, I THINK ONTARIO
DOES VERY WELL ON BOTH TYPES OF
ACCESS THAT CHRISTINE WAS
TALKING ABOUT.
IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN'T DO
BETTER BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION IS
STILL, IN LARGE PART, A TICKET
TO A MIDDLE CLASS FUTURE.
IF YOU DON'T LEAVE THAT OPEN TO
EVERYBODY, IF YOU DON'T MAKE
THAT AS ACCESSIBLE AS POSSIBLE
TO PEOPLE OF LOW INCOME
BACKGROUNDS, YOU HAVE A
LONG-TERM PROBLEM IN SOCIETY.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram."

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, ALEX,
DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM IN THE
PROVINCE OF ONTARIO TODAY THAT
TUITION IS STILL TOO MUCH FOR
TOO MANY PEOPLE?

Alex says UM, I DON'T
THINK SO.
I THINK WE JUST MADE IT A
DIFFICULT... WE MADE IT
DIFFICULT TO PAY FOR IT IN THE
SENSE THAT THE SCHEDULE OF
PAYMENTS IS DIFFICULT.
YOU KNOW, 7,000 dollars IN TUITION IS
NOT A LOT TO A FAMILY LIVING IN
ROSEDALE.
IT IS A LOT TO, YOU KNOW,
SOMEONE LIVING IN, I DON'T KNOW,
CERTAIN PARTS OF ETOBICOKE OR
SCARBOROUGH... YOU GET A
DIFFERENT ABILITY TO PAY.
YOU WANT TO BE ABLE TO TAILOR
IT.
SO WHAT WE HAVE IN THIS
PROPOSAL, YOU'RE MAKING...
THERE'S NO NEW MONEY HERE,
RIGHT?
THIS IS ALL A REJIGGING ABOUT
MONEY, IT'S REJIGGING TIMING AND
TAKING IT FROM SOME AND GIVING
IT TO OTHERS.
IT'S MAKING THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF
MONEY A BIT BIGGER FOR THOSE
PEOPLE IN LOW INCOME FAMILIES
AND YOU'RE MAKING A TUITION
INCREASE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE
HIGHER INCOME.

Steve says JUST TO BE CLEAR,
THIS IS NOT COSTING THE
TAXPAYERS OF ONTARIO ANY MORE?

Alex says IT'S ACTUALLY
SAVING MONEY.

Steve says HOW DO YOU FIGURE?

Alex says THE COST OF THE
TAX CREDIT IS IN THE REGION, IF
I REMEMBER THE NUMBERS
CORRECTLY, MID 500 MILLION dollars.
THEY'RE NOT ACTUALLY
REINVESTING... THEY'RE TAKING
AWAY THAT TAX CREDIT.
THEY'RE NOT INVESTING IT ALL IN
STUDENT AID.
SOME IS GOING TO UNIVERSITY.
ONE OF THE THINGS THEY MAY USE
IT FOR IS TO KEEP THE COST OF
TUITION DOWN.
THERE IS LESS MONEY IN THIS
PROGRAM THAN THERE USED TO BE.
IT'S JUST ARRANGED DIFFERENTLY.

Steve says CHRISTINE, LET ME
TRY THIS.
POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS,
PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW, BUT THERE'S
A CAP ON THEM RIGHT NOW, IF I
UNDERSTAND THIS PROPERLY, AS TO
HOW MUCH THEY'RE ALLOWED TO
INCREASE TUITION.
I MEAN, THEY RUN THEIR
UNIVERSITIES, BUT THE GOVERNMENT
OF ONTARIO DOES HAVE SOME SAY AS
A CHIEF FUNDER INTO HOW MUCH
THEY CAN RAISE TUITION.
NOW, THE CAP ON TUITION
INCREASES EXPIRES NEXT YEAR, I
GATHER.
AND MY QUESTION IS: SHOULD
POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THIS MOMENT WHERE,
IN SOME RESPECTS, YOU HAVE A NEW
POTENTIAL WAY OF DOING BUSINESS,
AND SAY, TO ALEX'S POINT, THE
KIDS THAT COME TO THESE
UNIVERSITIES FROM ROSEDALE,
WE'RE GOING TO REALLY INCREASE
YOUR TUITION A LOT BECAUSE YOU
CAN AFFORD TO PAY MORE.
AND THOSE OF YOU FROM DIFFERENT
PARTS OF ONTARIO WHERE YOU DON'T
MAKE AS MUCH MONEY, YOU KNOW,
WE'LL FREEZE YOU.
IS THAT AN OPTION GOING FORWARD?

The caption changes to "Christine Arnold, @ChristineA_MUN"

Christine says SURE.
I THINK THAT THAT WOULD BE
DIFFICULT.
I WOULDN'T LIKE TO SEE THAT
PERSONALLY, AND I THINK WHY IS
BECAUSE THAT'S VERY POLITICALLY
CHARGED, AND I WOULD WONDER HOW
INSTITUTIONS WOULD SET THAT IN
PLACE.
AND I WONDER AT TIMES ABOUT THE
AD HOC MANNER IN WHICH EDUCATION
SYSTEMS MAY PUT THAT IN PLACE.
I THINK RIGHT NOW WHAT WE HAVE
WITH THIS ONTARIO GRANT IS THAT
THE PROVINCE IS SETTING FEES AND
THEY'VE ACTUALLY SIMPLIFIED THE
PROCESS.
SO WE HAVE A STANDARD TUITION,
BUT WE'RE ACTUALLY INVESTING IN
STUDENTS BASED ON SOME OF THAT
FAMILY INCOME DIFFERENTLY AND
PROVIDING THEM WITH MORE MONEY
IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS GIVEN
THEIR BACKGROUND AND HOW MANY
STUDENTS MAY BE IN THEIR FAMILY.
I THINK IF WE ALREADY HAVE
SOMETHING LOOKING AFTER THAT, WE
MAY BE DUPLICATING EFFORT, WHICH
WOULD BE A LITTLE BIT DIFFICULT
AND ALSO WE'VE MOVED SO MUCH
TOWARDS STREAMLINING TO MAKE IT
MORE MUDDY AGAIN, IT WOULD BE
DIFFICULT FOR STUDENTS I THINK
TO COMPREHEND THOSE CHANGES.

Steve says SHOULD WE, ALEX,
MAKE TUITION MORE PROGRESSIVE IN
ONTARIO?

Alex says I DON'T THINK
IT WOULD BE A BAD THING.
I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT THE SYSTEM ALLOWS,
ACTUALLY.
I DON'T THINK WE'RE GOING TO
TALK ABOUT TUITION, WE'RE GOING
TO BE TALKING ABOUT WHAT THE
CURVE LOOKS LIKE.
IT IS A CURVE NOW, AT 50,000 dollars
IT'S GOING TO BE EFFECTIVELY
FREE AND IT WILL PROGRESSIVELY
GO UP.
AS LONG AS YOU'RE HOLDING THE
PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE
HARMLESS, AS LONG AS YOU'RE
SAYING, WE'RE ALWAYS GOING TO
GIVE YOU GRANTS EQUAL TO AVERAGE
TUITION OR MAYBE A LITTLE BIT
BIGGER THAN THAT, DOES IT MATTER
AT THE TOP END IF YOU'RE PAYING
8,000 dollars OR 12,000 dollars? IF YOU'RE IN
FAVOUR OF PROGRESSIVE TAXES,
IT'S DIFFICULT TO MAKE A CASE
AGAINST PROGRESSIVE USER FEES,
WHICH IS EFFECTIVELY WHAT THIS
IS GOING TO BE.

Steve says THEY'VE SORT OF DONE
IT ALREADY IN A WAY, RIGHT?
IF YOU GO TO DENTAL SCHOOL, THEY
DEREGULATED TUITION ON DENTAL
SCHOOLS OR PROFESSIONS WHERE YOU
MAY POTENTIALLY MAKE A LOT OF
MONEY, WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY?

Alex says YOU COME OUT OF
AN ARTS OR SCIENCE PROGRAM,
YOU'RE LIKELY GOING TO BE MAKING
MID 50s, MID 60s, WHEN
YOU'RE IN YOUR 30s, THOUSAND
DOLLARS, THAT IS.
IF YOU GO INTO LAW OR DENTISTRY,
IT'S A DIFFERENT PICTURE.
THE ARGUMENT OVER WHY YOU CHARGE
DIFFERENT FEES...

Steve says CHRISTINE, IS THE
FACT THIS ONTARIO STUDENT GRANT
IS NOW IN PLACE, QUOTE, UNQUOTE,
FREE TUITION FOR PEOPLE WHO COME
FROM MODEST MEANS, IS THAT NOW
TO SAY THAT SOCIETY RECOGNIZES
THAT IN ORDER TO GET ANYWHERE IN
THIS ECONOMY, YOU NEED TO HAVE A
UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE EDUCATION?

The caption changes to "The new high school diploma?"

Christine says SURE.
IT'S A FAIR QUESTION.
I THINK WE HAVE UNDERSTOOD THAT
FOR A LONG TIME.
I THINK THAT MOST JOBS IN THE
POSTSECONDARY MARKET AT THIS
MOMENT REQUIRE POSTSECONDARY,
AND SO WHEN STUDENTS ARE
ENTERING THE LABOUR MARKET, THEY
KNOW THAT THEY'LL HAVE THAT
COMPETITIVE EDGE.
WE'VE EVEN SEEN A BIG PUSH IN
DIPLOMAS AND DEGREES, AS MORE
AND MORE STUDENTS ARE LOOKING
FOR WORK AFTERWARDS AND
COMPETING FOR THOSE POSITIONS.
I THINK THIS IS A RECOGNITION
AND IT'S ALSO A RECOGNITION THAT
THE COSTS CAN BE A LITTLE
DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND AT
TIMES, AND SO NOT EVERYONE IS
ACCESSING EDUCATION IN THE SAME WAY.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE, ALEX,
LET ME ASK THE NEXT QUESTION,
WHICH IS: THE PUBLIC PAID FOR
ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION BECAUSE AT ONE TIME
THAT'S WHAT YOU NEEDED TO GET A
GOOD JOB.
WE'VE NOW HEARD CHRISTINE SAY IT.
IN ORDER TO GET A GOOD JOB IN
THIS SOCIETY, YOU NEED TO HAVE A
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION.
SHOULD IT BE FREE AS WELL FOR EVERYBODY?

Alex says IT'S AN
INTERESTING QUESTION.
THE PROBLEM IS TERTIARY
EDUCATION IS MORE VARIED THAN
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY.
THERE'S HUGE DIFFERENCES IN
FIELDS OF STUDY, THE TIME IT
TAKES TO DO THINGS, SOME THINGS
IN TRADES, YOU CAN DO THEM IN A
YEAR AND A HALF, TWO YEARS,
OTHERWISE YOU GET A Ph.D. THAT
IS 12 OR 14.
SO IT'S NOT HOMOGENOUS GOODS THE
WAY OTHERS ARE.
WE ARE GETTING TO A POINT NOW
WHERE YOU'RE AT 70 percent OF THE
POPULATION, 25 TO 34 ARE GETTING
SOME KIND OF CREDENTIAL.
I THINK YOU'RE AT A PLACE WHERE
YOU COULD IMAGINE COMMUNITY
COLLEGE BEING FREE, YOU SEE MORE
U.S. STATES DOING THAT.
YOU KNOW WHAT?
THERE'S A BASE LEVEL OF ACCESS
TO POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION THAT
YOU NEED TO GUARANTEE.
SO I COULD CERTAINLY SEE THAT.
NOW, THAT WOULDN'T NECESSARILY
BE YOUR 25,000 dollar ANIMATION
PROJECTS AT SHERIDAN, BUT
CERTAINLY THOSE KIND OF BASE
LEVEL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
PROGRAMS, I COULD IMAGINE THEM
BEING FREE IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS.

Steve says CHRISTINE, I
REMEMBER READING IN FORMER
FINANCE MINISTER GREG SORBARA'S
BOOK, HE MENTIONED AN ATTEMPT BY
HIM TO GET THE THEN DALTON
McGUINTY TO GET POSTSECONDARY
EDUCATION FREE, BECAUSE HE
BELIEVED WHAT HE SAID, IN ORDER
TO GET A GOOD JOB, YOU NEEDED TO
HAVE A POSTSECONDARY DEGREE.
DO YOU THINK POSTSECONDARY
SHOULD BE FREE, OUR GOVERNMENTS
SHOULD BE LOOKING AT WAYS TO
MAKE IT FREE FOR EVERYONE?

Christine says SURE.
I THINK THAT ALEX HAS STATED, A
BASELINE OF EDUCATION, AND WE'VE
SEEN THAT BE FREE IN VARIOUS
JURISDICTIONS, I THINK THAT
WOULD BE VERY IMPORTANT.
I THINK WHY IS BECAUSE YOU HAVE
STUDENTS WHO ARE ABLE TO ENTER
FROM VARIOUS MEANS, AS YOU
STATED, AND HAVE THAT ENTRY AND
GET TO SEE WHAT POSTSECONDARY
LOOKS LIKE, WHETHER IT'S RIGHT
FOR THEM, WHETHER THERE ARE
PROGRAMS THEY WANT TO BE
ENROLLED IN.
I DO WORRY ABOUT PROFESSIONAL
PROGRAMS BECAUSE SOME ARE
DEFINITELY MORE COSTLY TO THE
PROVINCE THAN OTHERS.
I THINK THAT BASELINE OF TUITION
WOULD CERTAINLY BE HELPFUL.
IF STUDENTS ARE MOVING ON OR
MOVING ON IN THEIR EDUCATION,
THAT WE COULD PROVIDE MORE
FUNDING TO THEM OVER TIME IN A
STAGGERED WAY, THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL.

Steve says IN OUR LAST FEW
MINUTES, LET'S TACKLE THIS LAST
QUOTE HERE FROM MATTHEW LOUGH OF
THE FINANCIAL POST UNDER THE
CATEGORY OF, IS THIS TOO MUCH OF
A GOOD THING?

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Too much of a good thing?" The quote reads "Making university education cheaper will fuel more overconsumption. It gets even worse when you consider where the marginal enrollment will take place, and among what kinds of students. High-ability students who enroll in mathematics, business, or science programs are already in university, because they believe the increased future incomes will provide a sufficient return on their investments in education.
Marginal enrollment from eliminating tuition fees will likely come from unmotivated, lower-ability students, and in less practical programs like theatre history or equity studies."
Quoted from Matthew Lau, Financial Post. March 1, 2016.

Steve says THAT'S HARSH, ALEX,
BUT IS IT TRUE?

Alex says NO.
IT'S CERTAINLY TRUE IT'S
DESIGNED TO STIMULATE MORE
ENROLMENT AND IT'S TRUE THAT
PEOPLE WHO ARE MORE ACADEMICALLY
ABLE ARE PROBABLY ALREADY IN
UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE, SO THE
PEOPLE YOU'RE GETTING ARE LIKELY
TO BE MORE MARGINAL ACADEMICALLY
AND THEY'RE GOING TO REQUIRE
MORE ASSISTANCE TO HELP GET THEM
THROUGH.
I DON'T THINK THEY'RE GOING TO
GO INTO HISTORY AND THEATRE.
IF YOU'RE... THOSE ARE STILL
PRETTY MOTIVATED SUBJECTS.
BY AND LARGE PEOPLE WHO DON'T GO
TO POSTSECONDARY ARE PEOPLE WHO
ARE VERY AMBIVALENT ABOUT WHAT
THEY WANT THEIR FUTURE CAREER TO
BE.
THEY ARE GOING TO SPEND THE TIME
AND ENERGY TO GO THROUGH, THEY
WANT IT TO BE FOR SOMETHING
PRACTICAL.
SO I THINK WHERE YOU SEE A LOT
MORE OF THE PUSH IS ACTUALLY ON
MUCH MORE APPLIED PROGRAMS AND
APPLIED DEGREE PROGRAMS THAT YOU
SEE, FOR INSTANCE, IN COMMUNITY COLLEGES.

Steve says CHRISTINE, LET ME
ASK THE QUESTION TO YOU IN A
DIFFERENT WAY.
A COUPLE OF GENERATIONS AGO WHEN
ONLY 10 OR 20 PERCENT OF THE
PUBLIC WERE GOING ALL THE WAY
THROUGH WITH A POSTSECONDARY
PROGRAM, HAVING A COLLEGE OR
UNIVERSITY DEGREE WAS KIND OF A
BIG DEAL.
TODAY IF IT'S TWO-THIRDS AND
GOING TO BE EVEN HIGHER
TOMORROW, DOES THAT NECESSARILY
REDUCE THE VALUE OF A
POSTSECONDARY DIPLOMA OR
CERTIFICATE OR DEGREE?

Christine says SURE.
I WOULD SAY IT DOESN'T.
I WOULD THINK SOME OF THE
ASSUMPTIONS IN THE QUOTE WE READ
IS THESE STUDENTS WOULD BE ANY
LESS MOTIVATED OR THERE'S ANY
LESS A RIGHT TO BE AT THESE
INSTITUTIONS.
I DON'T KNOW IF WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT ADMISSIONS HERE.
ADMISSIONS STANDARDS IN TERMS OF
WHO IS ADMITTED AND THE NUMBERS
EACH YEAR, WE'RE NOT TALKING
ABOUT THOSE INCREASES.
WHETHER THEY OCCUR OR NOT IS
BESIDES THE POINT.
I THINK THE VALUE OF A
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION IS MUCH
LARGER THAN A CAREER.
THERE'S CIVIC ENGAGEMENT,
THERE'S PROGRAMS RUNNING
COMMUNITIES, THERE'S LOWER CRIME
RATES, AND THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARE
ABLE TO HAVE THOSE CRITICAL
THINKING SKILLS AND SOME OF THE
OTHER SKILLS THAT WE TRAIN THEM
TO BE IN OUR COMMUNITY MORE WIDELY.

Steve says ALEX, WHY DON'T YOU
PUT THE ICING ON TOP OF THE CAKE
HERE AND REMIND EVERYBODY:
WHAT'S THE POINT OF GETTING A
POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION ANYWAY?

Alex says SKILLS FOR LIFE.
I KNOW PEOPLE WANT TO MAKE A LOT
OF TIGHT LINES BETWEEN WHAT YOU
STUDY IN SCHOOL AND WHAT YOU GO
ON TO DO, BUT THAT'S RARELY TRUE.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
A UNIVERSITY DEGREE, YOU NEED
SOME KIND OF MIX OF SKILLS THAT
ALLOW YOU TO BE A CRITICAL
THINKER, ALLOW YOU TO BE A GOOD
CITIZEN, AND THAT ALLOW YOU TO
CONTRIBUTE QUICKLY IN THE
ECONOMY.
YOU HAVE TO BE... YOU HAVE TO
HAVE THOSE HARD TECHNICAL
SKILLS, I THINK SOME OF THEM, TO
GET THAT FIRST JOB.
NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO BE OUT
THERE MAKING APPS OR CREATING
THE NEXT POKEMON GO, BUT THEY
HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO WORK IN A
MODERN OFFICE ENVIRONMENT.
BUT YOU CAN GET THAT DOING A LOT
OF DIFFERENT THINGS.
I THINK THE IMPORTANT THING WITH
UNIVERSITY IN PARTICULAR, FIND
SOMETHING YOU LIKE TO DO AND
LEARN A FEW HARD SKILLS ALONG
THE WAY TO MAKE SURE YOU CAN GET
THAT FIRST JOB.

Steve says CHRISTINE FOUND
SOMETHING SHE WOULD LIKE TO DO
AT MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY IN
NEWFOUNDLAND.
DO YOU MISS US IN ONTARIO YET?

Christine says I DO MISS
YOU IN ONTARIO.
I ABSOLUTELY ENJOY THE COMMUNITY
THERE AND ESPECIALLY THE
POSTSECONDARY COMMUNITY, BUT I'M
BRANCHING OUT AND MAKING SOME
CONNECTIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY,
SO I APPRECIATE YOU HAVING ME ON TODAY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Mark Brosens, @MarkBrosens"

Steve says NOT AT ALL.
WE'RE GLAD YOU COULD JOIN US VIA
SKYPE FROM MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY
IN ST. JOHN'S.
THANKS, CHRISTINE ARNOLD.
AND ALEX USHER FROM HIGHER
EDUCATION STRATEGY ASSOCIATES
HERE IN OUR TORONTO STUDIOS.
THANKS, EVERYBODY.

Watch: Ontario Tuition Reform