Although I have followed the student protests in Montreal peripherally I, like many have not fully appreciated the implications and ramifications of what is happening with these protests. Thanks to a Tweet from Stephen Downes (@oldaily) I have been pushed to read and attempt to understand this issue more. Here is the interesting article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
As I read this and other articles as well as this article from (CBC news) it says to me that the Quebec government may have blinked and I sense that the students know this as well and will now push even harder.
What is not being talked about but has to be lurking around the corner is whether this apparent local Quebec issue will begin to trickle out beyond Quebec’s borders and start a larger conversation about the cost and value of education in Canada, the US or even globally. We must not be sidetracked by the great differences in costs for post-secondary in Quebec versus elsewhere in Canada or beyond (see this CBC article). This cost disparity will be used as a red herring in the discussion and we must not be drawn into this distraction but head to the real issues that governments have not wanted us to talk about with respect to the cost of education. There needs to be greater transparency around government policy that encourages and supports great mountains of debt for post-secondary students. Tuition costs have risen significantly in so many jurisdictions and the smoke-screen, end-run continues to be the apparent open-door availability of student loans. Wow have we been had. There are many examples of individuals completing credentials with horrendous student debt entering marginally-paid work worlds where they can never in their lifetime ever pay off the debt. This is a good thing for society right? Well I guess the cynical part of me says from a government perspective this is a good thing because these debt-saddled individuals are less inclined to protest or speak out and become a thorn in society’s side. Wow that might sound like a load of hooey but I think that there is an element of this thinking in many government and corporate circles.
Is it possible that enough enlightened, informed or just plain p*@sed off people might finally start a conversation on our doorsteps outside of Quebec? Why not – it is long overdue. When it comes I hope we can find appropriate ways to engage the conversation such that people are heard and respected in the process not like the way that access and copyright has been unceremoniously jammed down our throats – but that is for another post. (Stop the Canadian University Copyright Disaster)