Alex Usher Needs to Consider Taxation

In my previous Academic Matters blog post, I argued that there are five advantages to universal access to financial assistance for post-secondary education (as opposed to means-tested assistance for lower-income students).  They are:  1) lower administrative costs; 2) lower marginal tax rates; 3) greater transparency; 4) less opportunity for political trickery; and 5) greater social solidarity among socioeconomic groups.  My blog post was a response to Alex Usher’s blog post of May 9,  which had argued that we

Responding to Nick Falvo on tuition fees

Recently, on my daily blog, I wrote an analysis (link to: http://higheredstrategy.com/whos-progressive/) of distributional effects of tuition reductions versus those of targeted grant programs and concluded that the latter were far more progressive in their impact than the former.  Grants can be designed to be as targeted as one wishes (entirely to the bottom quartile, half to the bottom and half the second, etc), whereas tuition reductions deliver vastly more aid to wealthier families than poor ones.  Partly due

Alex Usher is Wrong on Tuition Fees

One of Canada’s best-known post-secondary education pundits, Alex Usher, recently wrote a blog post suggesting that Canada’s status quo system of high tuition fees (and means-tested financial aid for students) is in fact progressive.  Specifically, he argued that lowering tuition fees would reward higher-income earners rather than lower-income earners.  Ergo:  no government that wants to help lower-income households should seriously consider trying to reduce tuition fees.

Here are five reasons why I think Mr. Usher is wrong:

1. Administrative

Do High Tuition Fees Make for Good Public Policy?

Yesterday, I gave a presentation to Professor Ted Jackson’s graduate seminar course on higher education, taught in Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration.  The link to my slide deck, titled “The Political Economy of Post-Secondary Education in Canada,” can be found here.

Points I raised in the presentation include the following:

-Tuition fees have been rising in Canada for roughly the past three decades.  Yet, individuals in the 25-44 age demographic have the highest levels of

The perils of California Dreamin’ in higher education

Writing in the National Post, Ian Clark argues that emulating California’s higher education system will increase the productivity and efficiency of Ontario’s universities. No doubt, this is an idea that will appeal to some, but the rest of us should be cautious in accepting his conclusions.

Clark, along with David Trick and Richard Van Loon, have built a bit of a cottage industry around diagnosing the ailments of Ontario’s universities and suggesting ways to cure them. Their work, expressed