Only something like 35% of Quebec students are on strike*, and in a column in today's La Presse, Yves Boivert notes that those on strike are overwhelmingly from the arts and social sciences faculties; those in natural sciences, engineering, medicine, etc have all stayed in class and their session is ending normally. His argument is that since people in the arts and social sciences cannot expect the sort of salaries that students in other faculties will likely get, the tuition increase hurts them more, so it is to be expected that they will be more likely to object.
My first reaction was: "Okay, that makes sense."
My second reaction was: "Hold it, what about compensating differentials?" Increased salaries are only one form in which the returns to education are realised, and it's one that is a relatively recent addition. For centuries, people had been studying philosophy, history and literature for their own sake. Students would take all forms of returns into account when choosing their fields of study, and those at the margin between electrical engineering and English literature would view the combinations of the two sorts of returns as equally balanced in each discipline. Increasing the cost shouldn't change anything.
A complication is that the high-earning programs usually have limited enrollment, so applying marginal analysis here may be problematic.
What do you think?
*For non-Canadians: The Quebec government decided last year to increase tuition fees in Quebec by 75% over 5 years, to a level just under the Canadian average. A student strike has been in progress for 11 weeks or so.