The issue of funding in higher education is a popular matter of discussion for both educators and politicians. At the same time, students and their families are the party most interested in reduction or abolishment of university tuition fees. At present, Prince Edward Island is considering the introduction of free tuition model for higher education institutions of the county (Armstrong). However, there are doubts that the model can be effective (“UPEI Student Union”).
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Should PEI Provide Free Tuition for University Students?
Free of charge education is still provided in the Nordic countries. At present, Germany, Norway, Finland, and Iceland suggest free education for both their citizens and foreigners (Välimaa). P.E.I. is investigating the issue of tuition free higher education. Then research is based not only on the European experience. For example, free tuition model is accepted in Ontario. However, it applies only to students from low-income families.
The introduction of tuition free higher education is likely to attract more students, both local and foreign. More educated youth in the region can positively contribute to the economic growth and the creation of new workplaces. Still, overall cancelation of tuition fees cannot be implemented because the universities would lose their revenue. Thus, at the initial stage, free higher education can be suggested for low-income students whose families cannot afford education loans, and for gifted students to encourage general education performance.
Who Will Pay the Difference in Case Free Tuition is Introduced?
In the Nordic countries, higher education is mainly funded by public investments. For example, in Finland and Norway 95.9% of university funding comes from public expenditure while in the United States this figure is only 34.8% (Välimaa). In Canada, higher education expenditure is mainly federal in addition to the revenue received from the students. Thus, in case free tuition in implemented in Canadian university practice, the gap in financing should be bridged. German experience can be useful in questions of funding higher education. In Germany, higher education institutions “receive a budget from the responsible ministry of the state in which they are located” (Kehm). In Canada, county local governments can function similarly to German state ministries.
At present, both the government of Canada and the government of P.E.I. are investing more than $4.5 million in the development of Holland College as a component of Canada’s Innovation Agenda. It is focused on the development of the country’s “capacity for innovation, job creation, and industry growth” (“Governments Invest in Higher Education in Prince Edward Island”). The governments also plan to invest more than $23 million in P.E.I.’s higher education institutions during the following years. This financial support from the government can also contribute to developing tuition free education in P.E.I. (“Governments Invest in Higher Education in Prince Edward Island”). However, more attention should be given to reformation of the higher education system to attract more private donors and introduce public funding.
On the whole, the issue of tuition fee education is controversial. On the one hand, it provides more opportunities for students for postsecondary education. On the other hand, it brings problems for the government and universities that need to find other funding than tuition fees. In case of P.E.I. higher education system, overall abolishment of tuition is not likely to be effective because the system of public funding is not developed. Still, introduction of free higher education for certain categories such as low-income or gifted students, can bring positive changes.
Armstrong, Nigel. “P.E.I. Considering Free Tuition Model for University, College. The Guardian. 2016. Web.
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“Governments Invest in Higher Education in Prince Edward Island.” CanadaVisa. 2017. Web.
Kehm, Barbara. “How Germany Managed to Abolish University Tuition Fees.” The Conversation. Web.
“UPEI Student Union Not Sure Ontario Student Grant Program Can Work.” CBC News. 2016. Web.
Välimaa, Jussi. ” Why Finland and Norway Still Shun University Tuition Fees – Even for International Students.” The Conversation. Web.