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Stephen Downes
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Free Learning
Free Learning

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Funding Zero Tuition

Responding to Alex Usher - http://higheredstrategy.com/notes-for-the-ndp-leadership-race/

You say, “the Government of Canada has no sensible way to eliminate tuition nationally.”

That’s analogous to saying “the Government of Canada has no sensible way to eliminate two-tier health care nationally.” Given that the federal government has effectively done this, despite the fact that health care is a political responsibility, it follows that there are ways it could do so for education.

The way to do this is to reach an education accord. This can be done either nationally or bilaterally. It essentially takes the form of the federal government saying to the provincial governments “We’ll transfer $X if you implement policy Y.” In practice, we find that provinces often find they can find a way to implement policy Y for much less money than they originally claimed it would cost.

Legislatively, this would be implemented in a National Education Act, analogous to the National Health Care Act. As you know, this specifies the conditions under which money for education is transferred to the provinces. The provinces are heaily dependent on transfer revenues as a whole, since no provincial government could survive the cuts in service that would be required should they refuse federal education (and/or health care) funding.

So the scenario drawn out here would not occur, and the federal government has an effective means at its disposal to eliminate tuition fees nationally.


We Are Not Agreed
http://halfanhour.blogspot.ca/2017/02/we-are-not-agreed.html

A few days ago University Ventures authored a piece in response to a post from the New America Foundation comparing Republicans who defend for-profit colleges to climate change deniers. The unattributed University Ventures article argues "this piece re-fights yesterday’s war... the many challenges and opportunities facing higher education lend themselves to bipartisan consensus – perhaps more than any other area of public policy."

Bipartisanship is of course a U.S. phenomenon. But it is worth noting that there are many things U.S. lawmakers agree upon that are opposed in corners around the world. I find myself frequently occupying those corners, and today is no exception. So, setting aside the for-profit colleges debate for another day, I'd like to take the time to point to the points where I disagree with what is taken to the the emerging consensus.

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