Since almost 4 months now, in the province of Quebec, still inside the Queen-friendly Canadian monarchy, the pseudo-conservative government is struggling with a tenacious, creative and highly politicized youth who is rejecting a drastic tuition hike of 82% on university courses.
Despite its regrettably poor management of the conflict, Quebec’s government ironically succeeded at generating a genuine public debate. An unusually high number of citizens – well-known and unknown – have been voicing their opinions and starting discussions in every possible space: in traditional media, in social media, in the streets, and of course within the household.
One of the underlying issues is under-funding of universities. In order to address that, some people raised the idea that university research could be financed for the most part by the industry and therefore less dependent on state funding.
However, in my view, too much industry-funded research encourages the treatment of higher education students as cheap labor for the industry. Not only that, but there is a risk that marketers would seize that opportunity to use research departments to serve their own interests – not society’s – and effectively create dedicated research and marketing facilities at low cost.
This conviction of mine is eloquently expressed by A.J. Kandy:
universities produce new knowledge and insights through faculty research, even if that research is inconvenient to the needs or desires of commerce, like the thousands of science faculties whose research underpins the global warming consensus.
More related to the wine business, this current issue in Quebec reminded me of Michael Dashe’s thoughts on wine education in school. He explained that although wine education is certainly useful to soon-to-be winemakers, they must be nevertheless critical of what they are taught in school.
Mike Dashe is not the only winemaker I met who had this kind of thinking. Kevin Kelley from the NPA or Darek Trowbridge from Old World Winery both went in the same direction. But Michael Dashe expressed it with such eloquence that I made him the ambassador for them all. Hear him out:
Finally, what share of the cost should students pay for their own education? I believe an educated population benefits the whole of society. Not just the students attending university. I believe education should be heavily subsidized by all of us. Not just paid for by the students themselves. I believe education should be nearly free for all. Not just available to the select few.
I would go as far as to say that it is immoral for a society to slap a prohibitive price on education, including graduate school. Such a barrier obviously increases the inequalities in our society.
Cheers to the right to go to school!