Tuition is the dollar amount you pay to have the privilege of attending university or college.
In Canada, when you attend a public post-secondary institution your tuition covers just about a quarter of the cost.
The rest of the bill is paid by the government, hence the taxpayer.
In this past week there have been two large-scale student demonstrations against increases in tuition.
The first was in Montreal where students were upset over the provincial government’s six-year Quebec University Funding Plan.
With this plan institutions are now allowed to raise their tuition by $325 per year for the next four years.
By 2017, it is expected that tuition should be about $3,800 per year, which is still 30 per cent lower than the national average.
More than 15,000 students took to the streets in a peaceful demonstration.
Many purposely skipped class to voice their concerns over the increases.
On the other side of the pond, British students were again protesting against increases in tuition and the privatization of higher education.
Their tuition is expected to increase to just under $15,000 per year, which is approximately $11,000 more than students in Quebec.
According to reports, 10,000 students attended the demonstration (the police said there were only 2,500) and there were 4,000 police on hand who made 153 arrests.
There was only one arrest at the Montreal demonstration.
The contrast between the two is interesting in that the British youth are dealing with significantly higher costs associated with a much higher level of economic uncertainty.
In Britain, the unemployment rate for young adults sits at about 24 per cent and the cost of living is significantly higher.
Even if these youth are able to secure that university or college education, their job prospects are not that great.
In comparison, Canadian youth are facing a 14 per cent unemployment rate, which is less for those with a college or university education.
Today, Canada isn’t facing the same economic uncertainty as Britain, but if the Euro crisis continues and the Americans are unable to pull out of their current state it is just a matter of time before the effects are felt by all Canadians.
Tuition fees in Canada are fairly reasonable if you compare us to most western countries.
On the whole our universities and colleges receive significant funding from the government, even though many would argue it isn’t enough.
Yes, we don’t always get the money to offer every program we want or to build new buildings every year, but our funding is consistent and we are always able to provide regular ongoing education to most of the communities we serve.
We are what I would consider very accountable to the public and the government.
For every student who protested in Montreal, I would say take a hard look at students around the world and realize how fortunate you are to pay the tuition you do.
I would also ask them to look at the educational opportunities they have in their own backyard.
McGill University was ranked number 17 in the world university ranking—the highest of all Canadian institutions.
No students attending universities in the category above this university or many below are paying $3,800 in tuition per year; I can guarantee you their fees are significantly higher.
Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.