Amidst a flurry of calls for decreased tuition and more accessible post-secondary education, AIMS Research Intern Andreas Korfmann considers the effects these policies have on value in the education system. While students, parents, unions, and politicians are talking about rising tuition rates and the debt many incur, few have been calling into question the value of post-secondary education.

As tuition fees and government funding have both increased over time, so has the number of Canadians who have been pursuing post-secondary education. This makes it more difficult to assign a value to a post-secondary degree. Though 43% of students in Canada still graduate entirely debt-free, students-with-debt are averaging more debt-per-graduate, while the over-all benefits of post-secondary education in Canada are one of the lowest out of all 32 OECD member countries. Many will likely revert to the current go-to solutions: “fund more universities and colleges” or “lower tuitions through government intervention” Korfmann notes that in fact, these “solutions” may be the problem.

In Korfmann’s view, when it becomes more affordable to go to a post-secondary institution (through government loans and subsidization), it floods the job market with degree holders and brings salaries down while ensuring a greater number of underemployed or unemployed graduates. We’re also watering down the quality of the education itself.

Korfmann believes that with educational benefits slowing, sooner or later we will see a decrease in post-secondary enrolment as the benefits of going to school shrink while the costs rise. In The Post-Secondary Education Bubble, Korfmann warns that if we are not careful, we will end up facing the burst of this higher education bubble and see a trend towards a less-educated society.

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