Voici un extrait d'un texte de moi et Bryan qui date de Août 2008 et qui pourrait s'appliquer à la manifestation des étudiants de l'UQÀM d'aujourd'hui :
First of all, we need to start thinking from the governmental side ; how much subsidies must the government hand out for higher education? After all, holding a diploma from a university offers return rates that range between 6 percent and 25 percent depending on the field of study. Moreover, the debate is always accompanied by the concern of accessibility for poorer individuals to higher education. We believe that while accessibility is indeed essential, it is highly inefficient and unfair to give everyone subsides, even to rich families' children. Statistics clearly demonstrate that students from richer backgrounds form a bigger share of the student population. Finally, we consider that the low tuition fees that are a gift to those more financially comfortable students are used for leisure & travelling rather that find a part-time job.
Here is where the pernicious idea of education as a right lies. If you subsidize everyone – or even make it free - to go to university, you end up making the gift to those who already had more favorable conditions to access the ivory towers. And by doing so, you are devaluing the quality of education by offering them this gift that they do not need.In 2005, students took the streets for several days over an admittedly bad policy from the government to cut financial aid to students. However, some departments, schools and colleges were on strike for dozens of days and expanded their claims beyond the revocation of the policy by demanding free tuition or even general strike against the liberal government. They also found appropriate to protest in front of institutions where students refused to go on strike to disturb their classes. They did the exact same thing in 2007 – all though on a smaller scale- by opposing the government’s nominal tuition fees increase of 50$ per semester.
Trust fund babies who got in university because of their parent’s wealth are often beyond such movements to defend the right to an education. They occupy non-influential posts in the student union structure, but they are numerous enough to annoy serious students without consent from the bigger student institution like the Fédération des Étudiants du Québec. They are the first to claim a right to education, paid by taxpayers and not by themselves. Some of them will end up living up to the (sad) cliché of being lifelong students living from the pockets of taxpayers rather
than make intelligent and reflected choices about their education. Such an approach is devaluing higher education.
Why not deregulate fees and allow universities to modulate prices by departments, fields or school, while targeting funding to those who really value education but lack the means to access universities? You will also incite students who can afford higher education to be more respectful of it rather than skipping classes and then complaining about the teacher when he fails them. On top of that, such a policy in Quebec could stop the under-funding crisis that universities are fighting with and could allow universities to compete with each other thus making education an even more profitable investment.
Call us elitists, but a higher education is not a right, and nor should it ever be one!