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What's the price of education?

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Do we all have a 'human right' to a free education?

Does education at any point stop being 'basic' and become an additional thing (e.g. post-16? University?) -- in which case, should it remain free and, if not, how should it be paid for? And to add to that -- should all degrees be treated equally?

This is in part sparked by the UK's current debate about University funding where tuition fees have gone from free to just over £3,000/year, now set to potentially rise as high as £12,000 (but more likely £7,000) depending on which news article you read and level of optimism! Edit: ended up at £9,000. Good luck with that future peoples 'cause I'm safe :P.

As we're all students the way in which education is funded is extremely relevant to all of us. Indeed some of the younger people on this forum looking at May 2012 exams for the IB might be the first batch to experience the fee hike if you're looking at being an internal student in the UK. Some of us might already have paid for education (i.e. been at Public/Private schools) and some of us might not have the resources to do so. In my opinion it's important to have a clear view of the matter so you can at least feel prepared in case it jumps up and bites you on the metaphorical behind!

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The problem with this is that it'll just mean more selecting based on ability to pay instead of ability to perform. Going to university is too much of a trend (and, even, a requirement) these days and in the end you get people studying at university who should be cleaning the floors, and people cleaning the floors at university who should be studying.

Too many people have MBAs now... we should get rid of Media Studies courses, cap the number of university spots and increase competition, not cost!

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Education is right. If someone wants education, they should be able to get it, up to university in my opinion. The desire to learn should be able to be satisfied for everyone. Unfortunately, we know this isn't possible, as money is limited, and universities and schools can't go on with no tuition fees. However, once i'm successful, im definately going to try to make this a reality :)

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This is a difficult topic

I'd like to consider some factors before even trying to answer the question

1. Private vs. Public Universities

The always-persistent debate between the quality and access.

When the Universities are private, they can be identified as companies. As such, they have to work for themselves, have proof that they are the best in their field. In exchange, they can ask for more money if you want to recieve education from them, and there is no one to limit those prices. Therefore, a certain elite of the best universities is created, to which most, even with good enough grades, cannot reach.

When you deal with Public Universities, ones that are state-controlled, many things can be regulated, such as the maximum price of a course. There is however a danger that these universities will not develop as quickly or will fall into stagnation, as they have no need of development. There is nothing to compete with, when all the biggest facilities in the country are public. I'd say that this is more persistent in case of centrally-ruled governments.

2. Whom we consider worthy of achieving higher education?

When we limit the number of educational facilities, that means that we will limit the possibilities of some people to get into a university. Of course, selection, to some extent, is needed. When everyone has a doctor's degree, a value of such is greatly decreased, it is not a sign of real education, just a piece of paper.

On the other hand, when applying for a university, in many cases, the 'first come, first serve' rule is executed. Therefore, you may be a student with great grades, applying just a day or two before the deadline (such cases happen) and be refused because there are no more spaces. The students taken earlier might not be smarter, might have worse grades, but they applied earlier. Therefore, a student with better abilities could be deprived of achieving education.

Those are the two main issues. I'm certain that there is more, I just can't think of any other. Obviously, in most countries the differences between the private/public universities are covered by offering scholarships, but the rule 'first come, first serve' applies there as well. Personally, I believe in the need for competition of universities, and I would be willing to pay much, even if I had to take a loan, if I had a guarantee that after finishing my university there would be job offers waiting for me.

Edited by Daedalus
Being a grammar nazi, 7 spelling errors in one post were 7 too many.

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Referring to the UK gov's descision to raise the fees, given that Unis are constantly trying to raise their profile for internationalization (I know this because I was somewhat involved with all that bs at Loughborough) it's not going to go down well alongside even higher fees! think about it, EU students coming from mainland Europe will probably decide to stay at home and study instead, as education there is so much cheaper! In fact if there were more English courses around I bet demand for UK unis abroad wouldn't be so competitive.

That's from the view off attracting EU students, as this will affect their fee situation as well.

Now from the UK's perspective, but how will the students fund their alcohol habits?

it's not a lot of money compared to fees in Jordan/Cyprus. However given that it was once for free! There are better expectations amongst the population, correct me if I'm wrong?

I somewhat agree with Daed, the government needs to put pressure to cap **** courses, then funding won't be as much anymore now will it?

I think the Uni experience is not for everyone, but anyone who can go should. And finances shouldn't stand in the way of that! so if it's gonna be 7k, and they're still going to have a reasonable loan system like they do now, then that's fine. Probably won't be a big deal!

But yes, an answer to your primary question is, I do think education is a human right, because the more educated are usually more thought liberated, and less prone to putting up hurdles for progress! Uni is not necessarily essential to this though, so I think it's a privilege.

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I'd say education is about 2 things: giving people choices, but it's also crucial to the economy. In MEDC I think everyone should be able to get primary and secondary education for free, in part because it's pretty much the basics for being a functional member of society (almost everyone needs decent communication and numerical skills, even if the latter, for example, is just for personal finances). It's also important to educate kids, at least up to a certain age, so that they can make decisions about what they want to do with their lives - like pursuing their studies. So because of this combo of it being good for society (kinda like the government is investing in its workforce), and giving people choices, the Government should make education up to the end of secondary freely available.

When it gets to university, seems like there's support for restricting entry because high student numbers will require an increase in uni funding and mean everyone has to pay. I'd say university equips you with more than the basic skills everyone needs, but society DOES need some people with uni-level capabilities. In MEDC, they need a lot – some estimates put it at ~40% of the workforce –and demand for graduates continues to grow as their economies develop. So yes, more students will mean governments paying more, but it's because their economy needs these graduates. This is why lots of governments are increasing the number of places at unis overall, and restricting some areas (e.g. doctors) while encouraging others (e.g. engineering) – the number of places are more dependent on the economy’s demand for them, rather than students’. That said, because university isn’t necessary for everyone, and generally means higher wages later, I think students should have to pay for university, but in a way that means anyone who wants to can go to university, provided they have the marks, no matter how poor they are: if you’re smart, you should get the opportunity to study.

How to make it available to rich and poor and still make people pay? Cue plug for the Australian system of Commonwealth Supported Places, or HECs. Basically, students get charged for their courses (subsidised, with courses reducing skills shortages – in Australia engineering would be one – being more heavily subsidised, and vice versa). However, the government will give you a loan on your course fees, at minimal interest rate, and most importantly: you only have to pay it back once you start earning over ~$32 000 p.a. ($AU is about the same as US$ now. Ha!), and even then it’s only a few % of your income. So you don’t need to pay upfront, and you don’t have to pay anything until you start earning decent money, and even then it’s only a small percentage of your salary.

For me, this method strikes the balance between giving anyone smart enough the opportunity to go to uni (which is good for the economy: brainy people getting skills to do jobs), and the fact that it is expensive and not absolutely essential for everyone.

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Education, even higher education, may or may not be a right of each person, I'll let everyone else discuss that. Education is, however, an investment in the future of the country they reside in, which means it's in the country's own benefit to provide education to as many people as possible. I'd like to see the United States pay for college (university) for everyone who qualifies academically and try to see it as a long term investment in maintaining our position in the global marketplace, instead of a drain on our tax dollars.

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Are we assuming here the education being priced is strictly the academic one?

Because people are also educated by their family and peers, and their bringing up which instills different values and priorities within themselves.

The education that the government of private schools or universities undertake is only the one which all humans are able to share in common, i.e. two people can be taught the same math, but cannot be taught the same personal values,a s those usually depend on the surrounding they live in.

Regarding the private school system, the amount you pay and education you get depends on the country. In America, most private schools claim to offer a better education, but the price is literally ridiculous. However, in France, for instance, public and private schools compete on educational level and offer just as many opportunities to a wide variety of students from different socio economics backgrounds (ex: Louis IV is a public school in France constantly competing with private school College Stanislas: both schools offer excellent educations, and base their selection of students on their intellectual abilities over how much money is in their back pocket... the amount paid for the private school is nothing compared to school fees in America; approximately one seventh).

One could ask why this kind of system isn't put into place all over the world, but then it is also remembered the the french government is currently dealing (and has been dealing for a while) with a huge deficit.

And to Ezra, specifically: though I agree that for a country, education of their people is an investment, does a country need to educate everyone to the same levels? As "unethical" as this may sound, there is still a need for purely manual and less intellectual labor out there that doesn't require a doctorate; why would a country pay for the phD of someone who will end up being a garbage man, a public transport driver, or a school janitor? Or class struggles aside (sorry Marx), should the same amount of education be provided to a specialized doctor who chooses to focus his career in a specific field, as a fireman? Both need to deal with stressful, life-threatening situations every day, but one of them will rely more on quick thinking and acting skills than intricate knowledge of a precise field of medicine, and hence should need less university education full of theoretical lectures and more of hands on practice and training.

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All children should have the right to be properly educated until they have completed High School. They have the opportunity, with their guardian's permission, to leave High School at 16. They have the opportunity, without their guardian's permission, to leave High School at 18. This education should be paid for by the government through taxes.

College is not a necessity by any means and if you would like to attend but cannot afford it then you will have to decide if taking a student loan is feasible.

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Are we assuming here the education being priced is strictly the academic one?

Because people are also educated by their family and peers, and their bringing up which instills different values and priorities within themselves.

The education that the government of private schools or universities undertake is only the one which all humans are able to share in common, i.e. two people can be taught the same math, but cannot be taught the same personal values,a s those usually depend on the surrounding they live in.

just like to point out that some schools do try to instil certain values, ethics etc. in students. I'd say success is patchy, but definitely not impossible. And presumably it does work sometimes given the panic about (certain) madrassas (in certain countries). Or in a totally different example, in totalitarian regimes such as Stalinist Russia or Maoist China, education played a big part in the indoctrination of the population. On a more common level, many people will have had a teacher who has affected their values in some way.

Regarding the private school system, the amount you pay and education you get depends on the country. In America, most private schools claim to offer a better education, but the price is literally ridiculous. However, in France, for instance, public and private schools compete on educational level and offer just as many opportunities to a wide variety of students from different socio economics backgrounds (ex: Louis IV is a public school in France constantly competing with private school College Stanislas: both schools offer excellent educations, and base their selection of students on their intellectual abilities over how much money is in their back pocket... the amount paid for the private school is nothing compared to school fees in America; approximately one seventh).

One could ask why this kind of system isn't put into place all over the world, but then it is also remembered the the french government is currently dealing (and has been dealing for a while) with a huge deficit.

The public education system in France is certainly very good (as they are in several Scandinavian countries) but private schools on the whole definitely still get better grades and have a MUCH higher success rate for getting into the Grandes Ecoles. And on the flip side, as the name suggests, schools in "zones d'éducation prioritaires" (i.e. schools with socially and/or economically disadvantaged students) have a lot of problems.

And again, as the point has been made, considering the dire circumstances of education in the US (this generation will be less literate than the last etc.), which will impact negatively on the economy (as opposed to the advantages of a highly educated workforce), maybe the government would in fact save money in the long run. In any case, you can't pick one example like France and equate the fact they have a good state education system with their deficit. There's a whole lot more stuf contributing to France's economic woes than education.

And to Ezra, specifically: though I agree that for a country, education of their people is an investment, does a country need to educate everyone to the same levels? As "unethical" as this may sound, there is still a need for purely manual and less intellectual labor out there that doesn't require a doctorate; why would a country pay for the phD of someone who will end up being a garbage man, a public transport driver, or a school janitor? Or class struggles aside (sorry Marx), should the same amount of education be provided to a specialized doctor who chooses to focus his career in a specific field, as a fireman? Both need to deal with stressful, life-threatening situations every day, but one of them will rely more on quick thinking and acting skills than intricate knowledge of a precise field of medicine, and hence should need less university education full of theoretical lectures and more of hands on practice and training.

I think you're missing an important part of Ezra's post: "everyone who qualifies academically". So not everyone would be getting free college education, only those with the capacity to become something that requires more academic knowledge than manual labourers (not to diss manual labourers, there are perfectly intelligent ones out there etc...). I.e. the people who would benefit, and would benefit the country, by getting more education. Of course setting the bar for who should get in is harder, and the Government would have to do a balancing act, but other countries manage (albeit with varying success) (like Australia :P who, as it happens, if we want to talk economics, was the only OECD country to avoid recession :))

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In North America, it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a decent job with a fair income without a university degree. Up to high school is provided by the public system, but most if not all universities are private. It's so much harder for someone of lower income to be able to attend them and pay for it as opposed to someone of high income. Especially if you're working a part-time job at the same time, the poorer students are at a huge disadvantage to the more wealthy ones, whose parents can pay everything so they can therefore focus on their studies and achievements full-time, making it a lot easier for them to gain admission.

Edited by wombat123

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