The Ontario government’s new budget is something we could talk about at some length but today we are going to focus on one element of it and keep this post extremely short. The government will now provide grants for students from low to middle income households to attend college and university. The grants should allow students to finish school without massive student loans. This should also increase the total number of people that have the opportunity for a post secondary education. The idea here is a good one; more people with a higher education level is a good thing. However, the changes required to make this a reality should be larger scale and more transformative.
Currently most students will go through a publicly funded elementary school, run by the government, and then to a publicly funded secondary school also run by the government. If they qualify, they will then pay to go to a privately run, heavily government funded, college or university. With the changes coming in the budget the government wants more people going to post secondary schools, will pay for it, but won’t run the schools. Tuition levels will be set my private institutions but are guaranteed to be paid with public funds. This is already the case but with these changes every school has the incentive to push their tuition even higher as taxpayers will be covering more of the costs. These institutions are run for profit, after all.
If we want all children to have an equal opportunity at post secondary then make it part of the standard educational progress of a student. Make Universities publicly funded and operated as an optional 4 year extension to the current K-12 system. Once students complete their K-12 +4 they would be able to pay private institutions for masters levels and beyond.
It is a rather simple idea with massive implications so please feel free to comment.