By Devin Kreuger
There has been much talk in the news recently about how on average, and for most people, post-secondary education has a high payoff. Specifically, findings from researchers Greenstone & Looney shows that “On average, the benefits of a four-year university degree are equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2% per year.” For the individual who successfully pursues a university education there are lesser-known benefits as well, including a healthier lifestyle and reduced risk of obesity.
Findings also demonstrate that the benefits of higher education extend far beyond the individual, and provide significant contributions to society as well. Higher-educated people have higher-paying jobs, and therefore pay more tax. There is also a correlation that indicates that they pay closer attention to their financial health—through insurance and pension/retirement planning, resulting in a lower reliance on public assistance programs.
Over the last twenty years there has been an explosion in the demand for undergraduate education, and Ontario’s universities have worked hard to expand their capacity in order to have space for increasing numbers of students. Yet after a decade of rapid expansion to try to accommodate growing higher education needs, Ontario’s universities are reaching their viable limits. Yet the demand continues to grow.
Recognizing that the demand for university education is continuing to grow, the Ontario government has recently announced that in 2016 they will be inviting proposals for major capacity expansion to meet the growing higher education needs in the Halton and Peel regions.
Given the evidence of the benefits of higher education, it should be no surprise then to learn that the City of Brampton—the largest Canadian city without a university campus—is now exploring the possibility of establishing a university presence within its city limits. Former Ontario premier Bill Davis—who, as a former Ontario Minister of Education oversaw the creation of several of Ontario’s universities—is currently chairing a municipal panel to explore the options for Brampton, his hometown.
Will the next few years see a new university campus arise in Brampton? Only time can tell. But with a population close to 600,000, Brampton is certainly beyond the point of needing one, and its population deserves to reap the benefits that a local university would bring.
Devin Kreuger is Director of the Office of the Vice-Principal Research at the University of Toronto Mississauga. He can be contacted at [email protected] Visit www.utm.utoronto.ca/research