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CAUT Bulletin Archives

February 2004

Black & Chernomas Reply to McInnis

McInnis asserts that all the economic benefits "accrue to the individuals who receive (university) instruction and to the shareholders of the enterprises which employ them." The policy implication of this view would seem to be that the costs of instruction should be borne entirely by the recipients of university instruction and the shareholders of corporations.

It is a heroic assumption that the imposition of significant increases in fees will not affect the decisions and behaviour of those individuals who must pay the increases, and in turn will not impact society.

High debt loads will change the career decisions students make. After all, you will likely get paid a lot more if you know how to help corporations avoid taxes through transfer pricing or how to inflate stock prices, than you will get paid for learning how to compete using fair trade practices or helping local community economic development enterprises with their accounting.

The same pressures might force a law student from a working-class family who wants to do legal or environmental law to opt for a higher paying form of practice.

Current research suggests the reported physician shortage is attributable in large part to the fact that medical school graduates are taking longer to practice medicine because they are specializing instead of going into the less lucrative general practice because of rising tuition fees.

No one is arguing that university graduates who make incomes well above the norm shouldn't pay for a large part of their publicly-funded education. The question is when and how the bill is to be paid. We believe we should make them pay through a progressive income tax system when they are making the money, and not now, when we will all be better off if they are freer to make other choices.