That’s the title of William Watson’s excellent Financial Post column on university tuition. Of course this flies in the face of socialist received wisdom and NDP policy on the subject but what else is new?
Mr. Watson’s main argument is that a university education is actually a very good investment with annualized returns for many disciplines in the double digits (detailed figures for Canada here). Some, like women’s MBA’s in business and commerce, come in at a whopping 25.8% rate of return and female B.Eng’s in mining, metal and petroleum engineering at 20%. Why should taxpayers subsidize students’ lucrative investments in themselves?
Another compelling argument is that fewer than a third of Canadians attend university. So, the more than two thirds who do not attend, subsidize the others’ investment in education.
And there are many other considerations beyond the purely financial that argue in favour of students paying their own way. People value things they pay for more than those that are "free". A fully government subsidized system, like healthcare, would soon become starved for cash, stifled by bureaucracy and limited in choice. Students, like patients, would become liabilities instead of assets - and treated accordingly. ...
Make the students pay - its good for them, and us.