This letter to the editor was submitted to the Globe and Mail in response to Margaret Wente’s column “Educated for unemployment” published on May 15, 2012.
By Paul Davidson
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Margaret Wente clearly has a keen interest in the future of postsecondary education graduates in Canada, but her argument is lacking in facts.
Wente’s statement on average student debt is misleading. According to the 2009 Canadian University Survey Consortium Survey of Graduating Students, the average amount of debt per student is $15,466. The median amount of debt is lower, at $6,500. Even more importantly, 42 per cent of students graduate debt-free.
Last year, Google vice-president of consumer products, Marissa Mayer, said most of the company’s 6,000 new hires over the coming year would be from the humanities or liberal arts. Why? She explained that Google is looking for grads who are smart and can get things done.
In many cases, the skills associated with degrees in the humanities and social sciences — analytical, problem-solving, communication and interpersonal skills — give those grads a competitive advantage. They are resilient during the inevitable economic ups and downs. They are adaptable to changing labour market needs.
A university experience prepares graduates for something more than a career. It prepares them to think, to ask questions, to listen, to make decisions and to be engaged, global citizens.