2014-05-24

Does New Brunswick Need Universities?

New Brunswick's need for a French language university is dubious at best. There are only 250,000 Acadians in New Brunswick, and Quebec's quality universities are right next door (and indeed arguably closer to Edmundston and the Acadian peninsula). Worse, because tuition is very low in both Quebec and France, it is very difficult to attract students from those regions.

The University of Moncton makes up for it by attracting students from Africa. 18% of students pay around $10,000 a year to attend Université de Moncton. Unfortunately, there are still classrooms with 1 or 2 students. Every graduate program at the Univerité de Moncton is in a constant struggle to justify it's existence. 

The situation at New Brunswick other universities isn't much rosier. There are only 500,000 English speakers in New Brunswick. And yet there are 3 English language public universities. And once again there is no shortage of quality institutions right next door in Halifax.

Someone needs to do the math. There is a huge opportunity cost here. Perhaps the money should be redirected to student loans or bursaries. Granted, if you are a francophone high school student living in Moncton, you'll be able to attend university at a fairly low cost if you don't mind living with your parents. But for the vast majority of Acadians, Moncton is no more practical than Rimouski or Quebec City. Dito Mount Allison in Sackville for Anglophones.

At the very least, funding should be denied to private freak universities like Crandall in Moncton. Although it's location is practical, accepting students of different faiths and then forcing them to abide by Crandall's brand of Christian morality and forcing students to attend "chapel" twice a week, is simply wrong.

Half of New Brunswick's budget comes from the Federal government. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. There is an oil windfall out west and New Brunswickers deserve their slice of the pie. However, I fear the easy money is being squandered. Students aren't winning and neither are New Brunswickers.

(The author of this blog has a university degree obtained in Quebec and works in a Moncton call centre). 

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