Do you get what you pay for?

It’s good to know that in the midst of the debate over post secondary education in New Brunswick, it’s comforting to know that the rates keep going up. We are well on the way to charging Harvard type fees – which should correlate to Premier Graham’s goal of having the best post secondary education system in North America.

Tuition fees for the 2007/2008 academic year for full-time undergraduate students rose in six provinces, including Quebec, where a freeze on tuition fees for residents, in place for more than 10 years, was lifted earlier this year.

The biggest increases were in New Brunswick and in Quebec, where fees rose 4.8%, and in Ontario, where they grew 4.4%.

Fees declined in two provinces: Prince Edward Island (-9.8%) and Nova Scotia (-8.5%). They remained virtually unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

Notice the comparative chart at the bottom. At this rate of growth, we will pass Nova Scotia and have the highest average tuition in all of Canada. And just to stick the knife in a little further, Stats Can reports that Nova Scotia’s rates are so high because of their higher out of province student fee structure.

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0 Responses to Do you get what you pay for?

  1. richard says:

    Tuition fees at Harvard run at around $30,000, but nearly half of their undergrads have fully paid scholarships or other aid packages. Students are paying for the prestige of a Harvard degree; I would guess the prestige of a UNB degree is somewhat less.

    If UNB could crank up its science programs, maybe by specializing in a few areas, then perhaps they could raise fees and get away with it. Doing that might mean giving up ‘expertise’ in some areas (which could be turned over to ST or MTA).

    As it stands, by trying to be a comprehensive uni while raising fees, they will end up serving students who cannot or will not go out of province; that means ever-declining enrolments.

  2. mikel says:

    Let’s not get TOO carried away, Harvard tuition is $32,000 per year.Of course, the job prospects are noticeably better. However, they are getting up there to public university fees. They are in competition with the University of Maine, which has total costs just under ten grand. If you have a car and live in woodstock or take distance courses, Maine is cheaper.

    Just another quick point from the report, a mention was made that New Brunswick actually has to pay other provinces when their students go to school there, but does not have a reciprocal relationship. I guess the suspicion has been that more students will come to NB than will leave it for school.

  3. NB taxpayer says:

    “Do you get what you pay for?”

    In terms of government subsidized studies and task forces, I would have to say “NO”!

    The post secondary study was a wasted exercise that came up with nothing new except the recommendation to change UNBSJ to a polytechnique. So in retrospect, since it would seem that the government is going to buckle to the pressure of popular opinion, the study did nothing at all to reform the system, make it better or more efficient.

    A trend that seems to be slowly making its way to the surface in all departments for this Liberal government. As I think you mentioned before, if we are ever to move forward and shed our have not status, there has to be a government willing to make the tough or unpopular decision, the bold move or the visionary change. Remember McKenna’s vision to inflict economic development into every department (even tourism)? Can’t say that is happening with Mr. Graham’s show.

    At the moment, it appears they have left all those decisions to the academics and consultant only to rip them up once they hit the “no ideas or backbone” premiers table.

  4. mikel says:

    That’s not quite true. First, there is a difference between myth and reality. Donald Savoie did a study of economic development during McKenna’s reign on Kent County where he specifically said that the holdout on economic development was the province, not the region or the feds.

    McKenna had some successes, many of which are now evaporating as the dollar hits parity and technology lets companies go anywhere. McKenna had a very limited view of economic development, and health services and education suffered for it (perhaps by necessity at the time).

    However, for this we have to accept that simply BECAUSE a move is unpopular, it is therefore right. That’s a bad move. To restate a common criticism, there is virtually NO quantitative studies of how any of these educational moves would benefit the province. Even if we accepted the ludicrous statement that New Brunwicks educational policy woud be ‘best in North America’ (I can hardly type that without laughing), we then go right back to David’s main point that a better educational system simply serves the needs of the provinces where NBers would then flee to find work.

    But again, there are LOTS of economic development plans out there, and some are risky. However, we never hear about them. Fisheries workers have ED plans, but they are never mentioned, and pundits are often most critical either because it involves money, or because its not in line with their favourite ideology-tough love for other people.

    People said the same thing about McKenna, that because something was ‘tough’ it was therefore ‘right’. Turns out thats not the case and now doctors can’t be found for love or money. It may be true that it was necessary at the time, but even that can be debated.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As always, hindsight is 20/20. Whats the point in commissioning a study and then being afraid to implement its recommendations because of objections from a small percentage of the population? I’ll tell you what the point is; the next election.
    If its not a few students its a few environmentalists or Irving, or McCain or Ganong or any tail on any dog in New Brunswick.
    Its the abdication of leadership again and again and we need a leader urgently but first we need to recognise who that leader actually is or could be.

  6. mikel says:

    Don’t like to keep posting but the above is a very important point. First though, to combat it, the numbers protesting indicates this is not some minority. For comparison, when have you ever seen an Irving picketing in front of the legislature, or even an environmental group.

    WHile its true that SOMEBODY will always be found to protest virtually any decision, the point is that the above comment brings a focus on what should be talked about far more, but never is, even in media or blogs (cept mine:)

    And that is that ‘commissions’ are NOT supposed to be two guys who write a report in a hotel room and laugh all the way to the bank.

    A commission is SUPPOSED to be public. It is supposed to be open to media and where people come forward and make recommendations. They usually stick up a website so that they can pretend they are being inclusive, of course nobody ever knows how to find it. I did find it, and can tell you NOBODY said ‘we should put the two St. John schools together and call it a polytechnique’.

    That was never even mentioned so the idea that a commission is supposed to be a big cheque for two people to disappear for a couple of months and come out with all kinds of crazy recommendations based on whatever they happen to feel, is ludicrous.

    To point back to familiar theme, although not great, the committee’s on legislative democracy and forestry were at least up front and it was clear what kinds of recommendations came from who and what the consensus was-and why. There is the idea out there that the people involved in these things are idiots who look out only for their own self interests, but that is true whenever you hire a couple of guys from the yellow pages as well.

    When Graham talks about having the best educational system on the continent people may laugh, but that doesn’t mean they WANT it to be lousy, and it doesnt’ mean they don’t know that it costs money. If they set up a veterinary school and found all the best vets across canada to come and teach it, I seriously doubt that St.Johners would be at the front gates of the legislature picketing.

  7. richard says:

    It is difficult to accurately measure the impact of university research investments on economic growth, however, there are a number of reviews demonstrating these impacts:

    http://www.cou.on.ca/content/objects/Enterprise%20Canada_May2001.pdf

    http://www.urcmich.org/economic/

    http://www.utoronto.ca/isrn/publications/WorkingPapers/Working00/Langford00_Measuring.pdf

    http://www.the-scientist.com/article/home/53302/

    Anyone who has worked in universities with strong research programs can point out the spin-off and other returns.

    UNB and the Saint John uni (whatever it is called) will not be MITs but they can develop strengths in a few focused science/engineering areas. There have aleady been some good starts in aquaculture research in NB; I’d suggest some additional areas such as forest biomass conversion). The funds for these investments will have to be re-directed from non-science and non-engineering programs. Companies that access NB natural resources could be levied a fee to generate additional funding.

  8. richard says:

    “If they set up a veterinary school and found all the best vets across canada to come and teach it”

    Ain’t gonna happen. Canada has a surplus of vets already; UPEI turns out more than Atlantic Canada needs.

  9. David Campbell says:

    It would seem now, in hindsight, that the process was flawed – although as a guy who does some consulting, I think those two educators would have a different view. Hopefully, the Grahams can throw this in the dumpster and get on with trying something a little less controversial. For example, developing more electricity capacity, building an incentive rate and becoming a hub for North American data centres. Who would argue with that? What students would picket that? I am sure there would be some complaining about the carbon emissions but Google and others buy carbon offsets for their power consumption.

  10. richard says:

    “something a little less controversial. For example, developing more electricity capacity, building an incentive rate and becoming a hub for North American data centres. Who would argue with that?”

    Who? Anyone who felt their ox was being gored. Electricity capacity: what is the source-coal,nuclear, oil; all have their oponents. Hub for data centres? How? Tax relief, cheap energy, immigration? Many will oppose those as well.

    There is no avoiding ‘controversy’, whether its ATV regs, nuclear power, or education reform. Governments that have effected change have always faced controversy. What is needed is a government with guts. If they can’t push forward on education reform, what can they push forward on? Certainly not the changes required for ‘self-sufficiency.

  11. mikel says:

    I don’t think that is true. Electricity has its opponents primarily because of the source. Its not a coincidence that virtually the ONLY opposition to wind turbines is when they are too close to somebody’s house. In New Brunswick that’s not a huge problem, there is LOTS of space out there.

    Same goes with solar. Who is out there picketing against solar panels? If the government offered a rebate to get solar panels on your home, who would complain?

    However, as mentioned, when you are going to get it through nuclear, coal or oil and gas, there are plenty who complain. But like four wheeler regulations, they are complaining with good bloody reason. Just like for the educational recommendations-people protest because they aren’t stupid. Who in their right mind actually believes that merging a small university and medium sized community college and calling it a polytechnic is going to change a thing, let alone lead to the best educational program in north america?

    As for data centres, considering that NOBODY showed up to protest the Molson deal or the Nackawic deal then I’d suggest that’s also a stretch. In fact, even among bloggers people were unanimous in supporting a plan that lets the province give away the potash in exchange for some jobs while doing it.

    When it comes to economic development people are a pragmatic bunch. If a data centre were announced for Miramichi, the people there would be dancing in the streets right now. Southern cities may grumble a bit, the way cities do every time somebody else gets something they don’t, but even that is moderate-St.Johnners didn’t protest the Nackawic deal for example.

    Again, there is an idea that IF something is being opposed by large groups of people then it MUST be ‘right’. Thats dangerous, and in my mind, incorrect thinking. I read right through that education report, and nobody at the protest was protesting the many recommendations to help with tuition.

  12. nbt says:

    A commission is SUPPOSED to be public. It is supposed to be open to media and where people come forward and make recommendations. They usually stick up a website so that they can pretend they are being inclusive, of course nobody ever knows how to find it.

    Sorry Mikel, but that’s not just the case with commissions, it is the case with all political parties as well in this province.

    Organizations have become too central, in that, they no longer listen to anybody at the grassroots level.

    Which is why I was very disappointed to see the NB PCs hold their AGM in federicton. If they wanted to signal that they are going to do things differently in that party, they would have held their AGM in some other town or city outside the beltway of power.

    Unfortunately, they chose to remain a rump organization that dictates out of freddy. Same ol’ same ol’.

  13. mikel says:

    I don’t know why your apologizing, I wasn’t talking about political parties, only commissions and the differences between the ones I mentioned.

    The parties are a separate case, however, I have noticed that the street goes both ways. Absolutely nothing is stopping people from joining a party, its pretty rare that they’d refuse a person, even Charles got into the liberal party back when he was muckraking them as well.

    The question then becomes ‘if you hold a public meeting and nobody comes’ then just how much is the party’s fault, and how much the constituents. The parties in NB has among the lowest membership in the country, which is odd becuase the province has one of the highest voter turnout. However, we see even bloggers routinely being public but never actually daring to set foot inside a party meeting. Everybody’s a critic as they say.

    From one point of view politicians are right to ‘look down’ on people who wont take the bother to do any more than vote. However, thats a generalization, when you have an unfair voting system and a marginalized population that only goes so far-however, we notice that people are easily worked up about CERTAIN issues, so why not politics in general?

    This makes it very hard to govern, and why governments pay attention to the loudest voices. But Fredericton is not not a huge drive so I don’t think that is proof of centralization. ALL governments by nature are centralized. In what way that is good or bad is an open and complicated question.

    Just keep in mind that parties in canada only marginally are interested in the voice of the public. They are PARTY representatives, not YOUR representatives. They represent the partys views and policies, not those of the region.

  14. richard says:

    “…This makes it very hard to govern…”

    Only for those ill-equipped to govern.

    Graham is popular right now. He can either start governing and burn some capital, or continue down the road of yapping much and doing little.

  15. mikel says:

    By nature all individuals are ill equipped to govern, unless a dictator is a preferential system of government.

    As I’ve said numerous times, the liberals pay close attention to the politically active-namely people with money.

    There is a reason why virtually every piece of legislation passed concerning economic development has been about natural resources. And there’s a reason why the second lowest tax increase after the desperately poor were those whose income is over $110,000.

    Notice how the Finance minister whatsisname was talking to some flunkey from ontario (who appeared to give his reply about as much thought as his breakfast) saying ‘we’ve got to find a way to raise money.

    Well, IF they needed money, why would the tax increase on the lower middle class be higher than the wealthiest? If you need money, it makes sense to tax those WITH money.

    They didn’t do that for one reason-those with money are politically active. They don’t wait for potentially bad legislation to come down the pike and then protest, they plan ahead and lobby.

    So again, go look at Graham’s record, its no different than Lords. They make laws to benefit the people with political voices. But again, some people think that because a decision is unpopular it is therefore right.

    But to be fair, take a look at Grahams record, he’s been pissing people off just as much as lord did, in fact even more, so by that definition he IS ‘making the tough decisions’. Like the four wheeler legislation, or raising taxes, or propping up the caissie populaire. He’s been chastised for ALL of those.

  16. richard says:

    “By nature all individuals are ill equipped to govern”

    Good grief! We all don’t run for office do we? Gotta point?

    Graham can push forward with a well-thought out plan to bring ‘self-suffiency’ to fruition or not. Last time I checked we don’t hold referenda on every issue; instead we expect poiticians to act in our collctive interests. And as far as politicans responding to money, that is true for many, but not all. There are examples of the latter even in NB.