Tuition fees in Quebec education system

by Benjamin Carbone on June 13, 2013 - 12:51pm


I chose the article “Quebec’s higher education minister rejects calls for free tuition”, from CBC News, because student fees on education, in Quebec, is a subject that relates to me as a student. This ethical issue makes us reflect about the value we give to education as a society. This issue also brings use to think about human rights on education.

Should Quebec education have tuition fees?

I think education in Quebec should not be free because I think making education free would probably lower the value of education. Education is something important that people should be willing to invest in. Investing in education should be perceived as a privilege and a sacrifice. Maybe not putting education to a price where no body can really afford it but putting a price to education permits student to value it more then having it free. When human invest in something, there are more willing to take care of it. When something becomes free, humans starts to take it less seriously. If education was free, I think students would probably take longer time in studies. The fact that studies are not free enables some students to think twice before neglecting their works so that they would not want to fail again to not pay another session. Also, tuition fees help the government to finance our education system. So, if student use it, it would be good to also invest in it as society already does with their tax.

The other perspective would say that education should be free because it goes against the right and freedom of students to be able to afford education. Education is something that everybody should be allowed to have and fees limits some students to afford it. Free education would enable a lot of students to go into programs that they were not able to afford and it would enable some to do what they really wanted to do. Regarding student salary, it should be considered to make education free. It gives for some the impression that the government would want to limit the education of the population to have a better control on them. Education is simply a basic right.

This issue brings also another question, if education was free, would it improve student performance in their study to education to be free as they would not have to worry to finance it?


Your article caught my attention since education is presently a hot topic in Quebec. As you probably already know, in the years 2011 and 2012, the students’ strike denouncing the increase of tuition fees in Quebec was everywhere on the news. People started to identify themselves as either “carré rouge” if they were against the increase or “carré vert” if they were for it. Being a student myself, I was deeply interested in this debate as the outcome could impact my studies.

As a matter of fact, it is the question you raised in the end of your text that made me reflect upon the possible impacts on students’ performance (mine included) if education was free in Quebec. After some consideration, I came to the conclusion that free education would badly affect students’ performance in school. For sure, self-reliant students would no longer need to work nearly as many hours as when they had to pay for their studies. However, it does not mean that because education is free, students will automatically stop working. We live in a materialistic society that values mass consumption. Therefore, making education free will not solve the distraction in school caused by part-time jobs. Moreover, as you mentioned, education will lose value if it was freely granted. Less serious students will not be motivated to attend class and do well as failing will not have a big impact on their finance. For hardship cases, one can always sign up for loans from the government if studies are too expensive for them. The debts accumulated will be easily repaid (for Quebec students) once the student graduates and has a job (with a respectable income).

As for the heart of the debate, I personally believe that Quebec university education should maintain tuition fees. First of all, many do not seem to comprehend that money that one pays for his tuition is reinvested in his education. Canadian universities need this money in order to keep a good rank internationally, and to compete with other universities to offer the best education possible to its students. Compared to other countries such as our neighbor, United States, we should be grateful for the low cost of access to higher education. Nothing is free in life, and I believe that education is an amazing investment when thinking about our future prospects. Furthermore, the debt will be paid as soon as one receives his first wages.

Moreover, I want to comment on some points that you made in your text. I completely agree with you that paying for education makes people value education. If education were free, students would take it for granted and neglect to perform at their very best. Not only would students prolong their studies, but it would also affect the upcoming high school graduates who want to soldier on in their studies. There would be no place for them in CEGEPS and universities. Also, like you, I do not think that paying tuition fees will diminish the basic rights of students. The fact of paying fees does not stop undergraduates from accessing and having their right to education. As you perfectly summarized it, investing in an education is a sacrifice, but is worth it in the end.

If you are interested, I found this article (link: quite interesting. It also relates to the subject, as it discusses who really “won” the students’ strike and the impacts it had on our society.


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