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Free post-secondary education?


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For more then 3 months students across Canadian province of Quebec has been on strike and has been protesting the tuition fee hikes. The hikes supposed to increase the tuition fees for the university and college students over a period of few years (the period of years changes with each new proposed deal). The students went on strike and has been daily demonstrating against the proposed hikes. Other groups have jumped on the bandwagon and been adding their numbers to the demonstration. Last demonstration attempted to disrupt the Formula One Indy event in the Montreal. In addition, the students are demonstrating against a bill 78 that requires that any demonstration that is more then 50 people should declare its route to police 8 hours in advance. The protestors even launched a constitutional challenge to the bill.

The main theme behind the protests is still the tuition fee hikes and the question whether the post secondary education should be free or it should be paid for. Those that want it for free, stress the arguments of accessibility and that the education is a public good. The ones that want to charge for education point at the fact that the post secondary education is an investment that allows to obtain a higher salaries after graduation.

I went to university and paid between 5,000 to 6,000 CAD a year, which I self financed through working part time. I do not really see a problem with tuition fee hikes as the fees for Quebec students are currently half of what they were for me and even after the hikes they still would be lower.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/04/26/f-quebec-students-tuition-debate.html

So what do you think, should the post-secondary education be free and therefore financed by the state or should it be paid for by the students?

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I consider myself lucky to have received free education at the university, and I certainly do believe that higher education should be free. There are rumours that the current strategy of the Russian Ministry of Science and Education is aimed at minimizing opportunities for free higher education, if not eliminating them altogether, which is pretty sad. The rhetoric that higher education is an investment for better career opportunities is, in my opinion, a shallow assessment of what education really is - a way for an individual to fully realize their potential as both a person and a part of the society. I feel that viewing higher education as a way for an individual to secure personal welfare in the future presents this as some sort of a selfish, one-sided action, while in fact the whole society will benefit if the general level of education is higher.

My firm belief is that knowledge is one of the most valuable things, and precisely for that reason everyone should be provided free, unrestricted access to it. On a more practical level though, I think that the society and the government should promote interest in higher education, not restrict access to it. For example, even the widespread practice of part-time jobs students have to take to cover their tuition costs already takes away some of their time they could have spent studying.

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