Higher Education Strategy Associates

Fibs, Nose-stretchers and Trolls

Can someone please make the Glen Murray v. CFS bunfight stop? It’s making me want to poke my eyes out with knitting needles.

To recap, the Ontario Liberals made a stupid election promise about tuition rebates which they first communicated badly and then partially reneged on while pretending they hadn’t. Still, they did something for students, and would like some credit for it.

But they are being rebuffed by the Canadian Federation of Students. The Federation is incandescent that the Liberals avoided making an even stupider promise about tuition reduction, and for reasons which anyone with experience in government relations would describe as “baffling” or “criminally insane,” it has decided to treat the Liberals’ “something” as worse than “nothing.”

The CFS’s main talking point these days is that, far from helping “five out of six students” as they say the Liberals promised, the new rebates will only help “one in three” students. How did they arrive at this figure? Well, remember, CFS wants to make the Liberals’ promise look like as much of a “lie” as possible, so their job is basically to throw in as many extra students into the denominator as they can. They therefore include:

– 37,000 International students, who never receive aid anyway
– 50,000 graduate and professional students, who were quite clearly excluded from the promise in the manifesto
– 45,000 part-time university students, who were not excluded in the manifesto, but who, it was verbally clarified on the day of the manifesto announcement, were not included
– 312,000 part-time college students, a) who were subject to the same clarification, b) who on average take less than one course per year and c) 60% of whom are doing contract training which is fully-funded by their employer (and hence, presumably, are in absolutely no need of tuition reduction).

Clearly, not all those students were meant to benefit from this program, and in the case of student-in-contract training, its completely unclear why anyone would think they are deserving of assistance at all. Journalists who fall for this stuff need a stern talking-to.

I can see how having this kind of bratty trolling technique must irritate Liberals in the extreme. And I understand how the temptation to lash out at this kind of obnoxious behavior must be pretty strong. But, seriously, what possesses the Minister to get into a slanging match with CFS on Twitter? Go ahead and check out Glenn Murray’s twitter account for 2 and 3 February.

Wow, huh? Not only is it not becoming of a minister (the accusation of homophobia is particularly over the top), it’s spectacularly counterproductive.

Trolls live for that kind of reaction. Politicians should know enough to ignore them.

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2 Responses to Fibs, Nose-stretchers and Trolls

  1. Rachelle says:

    Given that free education for all is a tad unrealistic for right now, I agree that something is better than nothing, and I agree that CFS should stop fighting to get the rest of us to subsidize tuition for the wealthy.

    However, I think some part-timers should have been included in this reduction. Many of these students take only one course at a time because that’s all they can afford.

    Also, weren’t mature and financially independent students excluded from the rebates as well? These students are without family support . Many are low-SES students trying to turn their lives around through eduction. The lack of support for them is baffling to me.

    • Alex Usher says:

      Hi Rachelle. Thanks for reading out stuff.

      The independent/mature thing is a bit complicated. Basically, Canadian governments think that parents should be responsible for their children’s education but not forever. So we have this very arbitrary line that divides “dependents” (parental income counts in terms of assessing elgibility for aid) vs. “independents” – 4 years out of secondary school or two full years in the labour market.

      Generally speaking, mature/independent students get *more* aid than dependent students because their parents’ income isn’t taken into account. For this specific grant, because the government wanted a bit of income-targetting, there was a need to restrict it to those students whose family incomes they could legitimately inspect – meaning younger, dependent students.

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