Notice that I placed the word “free” in quotation marks, because of course nothing that requires the payment of salaries is ever truly free, nor should it be. What I’m talking about are countries offering higher education that’s either completely taxpayer-subsidized or funded through grants and awards. Or, in some instances, students are obliged to make only nominal payments (for registration, admin fees etc.). These countries include (not an exhaustive list):
Germany (in some states)
Mauritius (where students also receive free transportation)
Mexico (has tuition-free public institutions, but private institutions can be pricey)
Sri Lanka (for a limited number)
In Norway and Finland, both domestic and foreign students have access to tuition-free education.
In Denmark, students over 18 not only have access to free education, but receive a monthly stipend on top of it.
Many other countries in Europe and elsewhere, including France and the UK, charge low tuition to students that is government-capped.
China, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, is working toward a system of free tuition.
So why is it that members of the Canadian media insist on comparing Quebec to the rest of Canada, or the United States, in asserting that tuition fees for Quebec students ought to be higher? Isn’t it equally valid to compare Quebec (and the rest of Canada) to countries with free or heavily subsidized tuition?
There’s nothing illegitimate about this contention, irrespective of what some members of the (primarily) English-language Canadian media would have you believe. And more divisive, anti-Quebec rhetoric is the last thing we need in this country. Let’s stop moralizing and patronizing the students, and discuss the merits of their argument instead.