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Philosophy

The Government and Universities

This post is part of the series Why Government?

Other posts in this series:

  1. Is the Conservative Government Immoral?
  2. The Government and Universities (Current)
  3. Are Taxes Moral?
  4. Is Government Necessary?

In my previous post, I explained that we canunderstand the nature of the modern university by understanding how it is used. One of the users of the university system is the government. There are three ways in which the government uses universities. The government funds universities, regulates universities and hires university graduates. The most significant of these influences is government funding.

There are two kinds of universities in North America. The first kind is public universities and the second are private ones. The difference is that public universities are usually funded in part by the public (the federal and provincial government), while private universities are not funded that way at all. The University of Toronto publishes a report on their budget. They claim that the primary sources of income for them are tuition fees (by students) and government funding (per student). It is important to note two things: governments give funding per student and the funding is not dependent on the student’ s grades or need. Although extra funding may be targeted towards particular programs, students or degrees, the majority of the funding is not targeted.

The government also regulates universities. They are regulated in such things as tuition increases per year, disability policies and equality guarantees. The university is required to treat everyone the same regardless of their gender, age, martial status and the like. Although public universities are regulated by government, the content of the courses are not regulated by the government. Neither does the government regulate the quality of the courses. The actual university is regulated by participation in the AUCC (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada), or an organization similar to them. Regulation by government usually impacts a university indirectly.

The final way that the government influences education is by hiring university graduates. The federal and provincial governments do prefer to hire those with degrees as opposed to those without degrees. However, the government is not the greatest source of jobs in any sense. Therefore, this influence is not unique and will be felt no differently than any other employer who prefers workers with degrees.

Overall, governments influence universities most by funding them. The other two means of influencing universities are not significant enough to cause any sort of change on their own. However, outside regulations may influence universities most in the area of speech codes, equality in employment and business activities. The government claims that it is funding universities in order to give Canadians a high quality education. It also claims that this permits more students to attend university. Statistics show that the second claim is at least plausible because Canada has a high rate of tertiary school attendance.

Next, I will discuss the influence of organizations that are not corporations (such as unions, political groups and the like).

Continue reading this series:

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