In­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion pays big re­turns

The Compass - - Editorial -

Univer­sity grad­u­ates are job cre­ators, in­no­va­tors, mag­nets for tal­ent, and they are en­gaged cit­i­zens.

Given that the bud­get is sched­uled to come down at the end of the month, it is not sur­pris­ing that all ex­pen­di­tures by the prov­ince are be­ing put un­der the mi­cro­scope. How­ever, in our zeal to cut spend­ing, let’s not for­get the re­turn on our in­vest­ment; it doesn’t make sense to cut in ar­eas where we get back more than we put in. Univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion is one of those cases.

The data are clear: Stu­dents, both un­der­grad­u­ate and grad­u­ate, are key to the pros­per­ity of our prov­ince in the cur­rent and fu­ture knowl­edge-based econ­omy. En­cour­ag­ing and sup­port­ing them makes good eco­nomic, so­cial, and cul­tural sense.

Stu­dents con­trib­ute sub­stan­tially to the econ­omy of the coun­try and prov­ince. The Con­fer­ence Board of Canada es­ti­mates that “ev­ery dol­lar spent on PSE [post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion] cre­ates $1.36 of eco­nomic value added (or out­put) in the Cana­dian econ­omy” [1]. In 2014, in­ter­na­tional stu­dents added a stag­ger­ing $11.4 bil­lion to Canada’s econ­omy as a whole ($1 bil­lion of that in per­sonal in­come tax) and spent $48.2 mil­lion in this prov­ince alone [2]. That trans­lates into $3.7 mil­lion in di­rect per­sonal tax rev­enue in New­found­land and Labrador and $5.1 mil­lion in in­di­rect tax rev­enue such as sales and in­sur­ance tax.

Post-grad­u­ate de­gree hold­ers make more money and they also spend more money and pay more taxes. One re­cent study [3] showed that over the course of a 40-year ca­reer, a per­son with a grad­u­ate de­gree in N.L. will earn about 1.5 mil­lion dol­lars more than a high school grad­u­ate. Just think of the tax in­come that gen­er­ates. And this “rate of re­turn” on in­vest­ment con­tin­ues to grow ev­ery year. In short, “(h)igher ed­u­ca­tion is a pos­i­tivesum game” [3]; ev­ery­one ben­e­fits.

It’s not just the money [4]. Univer­sity grad­u­ates are job cre­ators, in­no­va­tors, mag­nets for tal­ent, and they are en­gaged cit­i­zens. Peo­ple with univer­sity de­grees in N.L. are 29 per cent more likely to vol­un­teer in their com­mu­nity and they do­nate more to char­ity. They par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics and they vote. They are less likely to de­pend on so­cial ser­vices and have bet­ter phys­i­cal and men­tal health. They are hap­pier: Life sat­is­fac­tion in N.L. among univer­sity grad­u­ates is rated as 17 per cent bet­ter than those with­out [5].

But beyond the num­bers, tal­ent

at­tracts tal­ent; peo­ple want to live in a place that has civic pride with a thriv­ing cul­ture and for­ward­look­ing cit­i­zens who ap­proach prob­lems with cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion.

Our univer­sity fos­ters such crit­i­cal think­ing, self-re­flec­tion, and tol­er­ance. It en­cour­ages ex­plo­ration into new ways of know­ing and helps de­velop in­no­va­tion, in­clu­siv­ity and di­ver­sity. Our stu­dents are supremely cu­ri­ous and keen to make a dif­fer­ence.

Sup­port­ing the univer­sity sup­ports our fu­ture right now. Cut­ting the univer­sity de­stroys that fu­ture and those stu­dents right now.

1 http://www.con­fer­ence­board.ca/e-li­brary/ab­stract. aspx?did=6607

2 http://www.in­ter­na­tional.gc.ca/ed­u­ca­tion/re­port-rap­port/ im­pact-2016/in­dex.aspx?lang=eng

3 https://www.chs.ca/sites/de­fault/files/up­loads/val­ue_of_e­d­u­ca­tion_with­_de­gree.pdf

4 https://www.lu­mi­nafoun­da­tion.org/files/re­sources/its-notjust-the-money.pdf

5 http://www.heqco.ca/ SiteCol­lec­tionDoc­u­ments/ HEQCO_Cana­di­an_Post­sec­ondary_Per­for­mance_Im­pact2015.pdf

Aimée M. Sur­prenant, PhD, Dean, MUN School of Grad­u­ate Stud­ies, writes from St. John’s

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