Can New Brunswick become a Celtic Tiger?

The Telegraph-Journal ran a story on Tuesday entitled Can New Brunswick become a Celtic Tiger? which has stirred up some strong feelings. The thrust of the article was related to eliminating tuition on post-secondary education. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Ireland often touts its 1996 decision to abolish undergraduate tuition at state-run universities as one of the keys to the country’s economic rebirth, transforming it into a European centre for high-tech industry with the nickname “Celtic Tiger’.

Alex Usher, vice-president of the Educational Policy Institute, an international, non-profit think-tank, is blunt.”Across-the-board tuition fee cuts or across the board tax cuts, in any jurisdiction, is a waste of money,” he says.

Free tuition is a stupid idea,” says Warren McKenzie, a UNB graduate and large donor to this province’s universities.”I honestly feel you should pay for your education,” he says, adding that some students already don’t alter their free-spending lifestyles enough when they are in school.”I don’t want to subsidize beer drinking,” he says.

Two quick points:

1) Free education may end up with more graduates – leaving the province faster. We still haven’t addressed the issue of actual jobs for these grads when they come out of school. Ireland’s Celtic Tiger status had more to do with the hundreds of billion in external business investment than with free education.

2) Who the bleep is Warren McKenzie? You give 10 bucks to UNB and then you can start firing around all these crazy comments like closing universities and subsidizing beer drinking? If these newspapers had any sense, they would not quote this guy anymore. He is not helping, folks…