Welcome to Margin of Error. Each month, I will be picking apart some number or statistical problem in the news or on my mind. I will draw on my own modest knowledge of econometrics — the statistics of economics, lately being applied to all kinds of problems — and interview the occasional expert. If you spot a questionable number that you’d like me to pick apart, send a tip to marginoferror (at) this (dot) org.
Thanks to midterms, university students across the country are too busy to read this. That’s probably just as well, because I’m here to share a story that might upset them — the degrees they are cramming for probably aren’t worth as much as they think.
Students are protesting fee increases, but it’s the administration’s policy changes that we should really be worried about
As anyone involved in political activism can tell you, nothing derails a movement quite like a fight over tactics. U of T’s student movement is off the rails— in the face of a 20 per cent residence fee increase at New College, most students seem to be siding with President David Naylor.
While we exchange insults in the Varsity’s comment threads, important issues are getting lost. At the University Affairs Board Meeting on March 25, a group of senior administrators presented a report that could fundamentally change the way ancillary services are funded at U of T. The report articulated a “fourth objective” for residences at U of T: to bring in a profit.
In any given year, according to the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, between 40 and 55 per cent of students drop out of their post-secondary institution. Of course, those aren’t all dropouts: many of them simply transfer to another school or switch from university to college. How many? Don’t ask the government.
As the Canadian Council on Learning pointed out in their recent report Strategies for Success, Canada’s federal government collects little data on the post-secondary education system. That puts us behind other countries, says the CCL.
Income-contingent loan repayment would help students have more cash, more prospects
In my first year, everyone was heading somewhere. Living off by-the-slice pizza and skipping psych lectures was just a temporary plan. We knew we were going to travel, write a novel, get a job with a conscience. Three years later, plans have changed.
Some of my classmates are still applying for that unpaid summer internship at the United Nations, but most know that come spring, they will be living with their parents and working overtime to pay off student loans. It’s tough to watch, because I know there is another way. I also know that the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is fighting against it.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced two changes on April 18 that will affect how international students pay for their educations. The first change will allow those students who have completed two semesters to work off-campus during the school year and full-time during the summer.
“I’m about to graduate,” says Abril Novoa. “So it came a little bit late.” Novoa came from Mexico to study political science at U of T. As an international student, she knows why the change is important. She paid about $12,000 a year in tuition.
After it was revealed Friday that the Ontario tuition freeze that has been in place for the last two years is being lifted, student groups including SAC and CFS were moved to protest what they saw as coming out of leftfield. (See The Varsity’s coverage in the Oct. 3 issue).
But according to Chris Bentley, the Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities, they should have seen it coming.
“We campaigned on a two-year tuition freeze, we implemented a two-year tuition freeze,” he said.
Though it calls for $1.3 billion more funding, student groups say the blueprint points to higher fees and bigger debts; U of T Prez says universities must help government make ‘difficult choices’
Monday morning’s release of “Ontario: A Leader in Learning,” the final report of the Rae Review, launched the next stage in the major debate on the future of higher education in Ontario.
Bob Rae, former NDP premier of Ontario, was appointed last fall to advise the provincial government on improvements to the higher education system. He accepted written submissions, conducted research, and ran public consultations, including town hall meetings on each of U of T’s three campuses.
The report, which recommends $1.3 billion in new funding for Ontario colleges, universities, and trade schools, also calls for an end to the province’s current tuition freeze. As a prerequisite for ending the freeze, the report urges changes to student aid, including the introduction of grants for low-income students.