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Should higher education be free (of charge)?

I'm having to write an essay on the above topic, and I'm at a loss to find any advantages with fee-paying systems, i.e. where you pay for your college or university tuition. I'd love to hear any opinions you have on the subject, from any point of view. Obviously, I'm not expecting whole essays here, just a few points that can be researched further and/or explored. Thanks in advance!

No, higher education should not be free of charge in developed countries. Unfortunately the Western European system with mass admissions to university and in many cases even means tested bursaries for students encourage the studies of subjects that are unlikely to be of any major help to society. An extreme example of this is Greece where the ridiculously low admissions standards at university mean that the overwhelming majority of youngsters have university degrees but these are of no use as they work as waiters or bank clerks (if lucky).
Not only does free higher education encourage mass enrollments at universities, with the associated high costs to society of providing education to many who should not be pursuing higher education in the first place (DDD students, or in Sweden 10.0 students).
Looking at it from another viewpoint, why should working class families pay for the education of upper class families? It is a fact of life that university students have a higher propensity to be from more prosperous families, families that should contribute to the cost of educating their children at university (indeed, many families are happy to pay substantial amounts to the Eton Colleges of this world, so why not to the LSEs, Lunds and Oikonomikh Panepisthmio Athinwns of this world?)


Higher education IS free! How much does it cost to read a Shakespeare play? ..or the words of Einstein? ..Sylvia Plath? ..or Martin Luther King?
It is only when you expect to get paid for your learning that it becomes expensive.


Saying 'no' is the easiest answer but wrong in the long run. Unfortunately, the 'long run' is probably longer than any of us will survive.
Seeing other systems (e.g. Germany, many Asian systems) and how they are different is very useful and practicable. Most of these other systems don't allow people to move on in education unless they are qualified. You have to earn it.
"Nothing is free" is true. Whether you're talking education or anything else the valuation of anything ultimately falls back into some form or translation of energy. Yes, even the age old laws of supply and demand represent a translation of the energy or potential held in a thing. Also note that there is more 'energy' in a table than a pile of lumber.
The types of energy that supply and demand describe depend on peoples' emotions and security (or insecurity). When the supply goes up people selling feel less secure and some will lower their prices, buyers feel more secure and take their business to those lower prices. The change in energy is an emotional one that depends on our frame of mind and perspective to a large degree.
Feeling that there is not an abundance of what we need drives us to want more and hoard what we have. Wanting to have more than we had yesterday or more than the other guy leads us to a life of continual disappointments interspersed with happiness as we find ways to get 'more'. It is possible to find a lot of happiness this way but at the expense of many others'.
So how ought we to manage all our energy? Is there enough raw physical energy for all of us to be happy? I’m talking about Kilowatts and joules now. Is there enough energy to produce more than enough food, necessity and even luxury for all? I suppose not if we all can only be happy if we have more than yesterday or more than our neighbor. Am I happier with ten gallons of ice cream than I am with a single bowl? Am I happier and even better off if I h


Interesting points! I was under the impression that you couldn't get into college if your HS grades weren't good enough, even if your folks made huge donations to the college in question...? ;-)

Would you be happier to let taxes finance colleges if there was more control in terms of admission, e.g. only A+ students admitted?


When I lived in Germany, I found out that before any of the students leave regular school, (grade 12) all students have a trade. They can still go on and continue higher education, but if they don't they already have a on completion of school, they can leave and be trained at doing some type of work. In Germany they do not want to turn out non doers in society, and they are spending the money to school them anyway, why not school them ending with a positive and constructive trade..In our school system the students get out with out a ticket to anywhere and if they do not have the money that is exactly where they stay.. not sure if this helps but it is something to think about. :)


I think the German system appears to be similar to the Swedish one, except our grades 10-12 are optional and result in either a trade or (hopefully) enough academic skills for University admittance, and higher education is free of charge, but there are minimum score requirements for certain programmes.

Globally Interested:

I am a tax payer. I may have to pay for your primary education, but I certainly do not want to pay for your college education.


Yes, I Think It Should


No. Nothing is really "free". When you give something of value to someone, without them having to pay for it, then it devalues the product or service.
If someone values an education, they should be willing to pay for it. If they are not willing to pay for it, then they don't value it much, and the space should be made available to someone who does value it more.
When you provide "free" education, you must tax people...One person gets all the benefit, while others get all the cost. Not fair at all.


Sure enough, but presumably the graduates will move into the high income brackets and pay lots of tax themselves. Those who can't pay will be doomed to low income, they will pay little if any taxes and might even end up on the receiving end of welfare paid by other taxpayers. So why not invest in everyone getting equal opportunities to be educated, get high income AND pay lots of taxes? ;-)


Because if you educate more people than the market will bear, then incomes fall. We have seen this trend....this is the first generation in history to have a lower standard of living than their parents. It used to be that a person with a bachelor's degree could support an entire family. This is no longer the case. Real income (adjusted for inflation) are falling....largely because too many people are getting degrees (as well as other factors).


I would have thought that the demand for graduates is increasing, since technology is getting more advanced also. I think the other factors far outweigh the increased supply of graduates: higher cost of living, higher taxation levels, inflation control, increased fuel costs, etc. The Norwegians have ended up wealthier than the Swedes largely because of Norway's own oil resources. I guess their economy will collapse once the North Sea oil wells dry up...

The don:

No, I think that if it were free, the Universities would be overcrouded with people who didn't really want to be there. People would take advantage and become lifelong students and never graduate and get a job.


Obviously, you can avoid that situation by requiring certain minimum grades from high school to get in, as the really bright students are - hopefully - ambitious enough to actually graduate and get a job... That gave me the idea to find out whether there are any statistics showing differences between free systems such as the Swedish one and fee-paying systems. Thanks! :-)


Yes, it should be. In principle, it would be a good idea.

However, we as humans would find a way to abuse it... like we do everything else. It seems to me that people only get a higher education to make more money. This is the reason why, I'd imagine, that it costs so much to attend a university/college.

If people actually went to school to learn things, instead of focusing on a career afterwards, it may not be expensive at all (or perhaps even free).

Then again, being cooped up in classrooms for 4+ years won't teach us anything about the world.

No guarantee is made that a college degree will be worthwhile afterwards. No guarantee is made that more money will be made. If anything, a degree will just put one further into debt. (as it does the majority of the population)

The common mindset of going to college right after high school is idiotic. No high school graduate knows what he or she wants to do. Meh, many people way past the high school days still have no idea what they want to do. College is a business, nothing more.... and to do business, you need customers. Those customers are gullible and moronic. They are practically taught from elementary school onwards that college is "necessary".

Well, guess what? It's only necessary if one wants to maintain a leisurely lifestyle. If a person wants to buy an (unnecessarily) large house, raise an (unnecessarily) large family, then yes, a college degree is pretty much necessary in order to support that. However, if a person does not, it is not necessary at all.

The only reason to go to college is the hope that more money will be made. Because education IS free. Anyone can pick up a book and read it. College is not education.. college is a sheep producing factory. A business: nothing more, nothing less.


I don't think it should necessarily be free, but I truly don't understand why college in the U.S. has become so expensive. There has got to be a way to bring costs down. A year of college should not cost a parent's yearly salary!

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