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Is education a right and should it be free?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Earlier this week, the Open University announced that from 2017, they'll be charging £5k for full-time courses. Some current students are moaning because we don't get that many tutorials (I have 5 for this module this year) and we have to self-study. However, unlike students at brick unis, we don't need to pay for our text books.

I see nothing wrong with paying for my education and don't see why others should have to pay for me. Someone said that education is a right and therefore, it should be free. But should it be free for university students, who in general, earn a far lot more over their lifetime than people who don't attend university?
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I do think everyone has a right to an education, but I don't think it should be free, especially not higher education. I think if H.E was free then most uni's wouldn't have the funds to keep going, which would mean nobody would get a degree.

    I personally don't see the problem with the rise in fees because anybody who really WANTS to go to uni can regardless of their economic situation because of student loans (which is how I can afford it), it just means you end up paying more back in the long run but if you are earning a nice wage because of it, then I don't see the problem.

    I don't really know that much about open university and their funding, but I'm sure if anyone really wants to do it, money shouldn't be an issue as it is providing a better future.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Melian wrote: »
    I see nothing wrong with paying for my education and don't see why others should have to pay for me. Someone said that education is a right and therefore, it should be free. But should it be free for university students, who in general, earn a far lot more over their lifetime than people who don't attend university?

    If they earn more over their lifetime, then they also pay more tax over their lifetime. Problem solved.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    It should be free for up to 18, if not 21 year olds. But I think the current education system isn't the best, so I would say it should be cheaper, if not free. If your previous education (talking primary through secondary, even college) was a load of bollocks, and basically forced you into higher education in order to gain something worth while, then it should be free, defiantly cheaper until the courses are worth more their weight in cash.

    The other problem would be the scarcity value to university. The less that go, the more expensive it would be, but the more that go, the more universities will try to monetize off it or 'waterdown' the courses to cover the overload. Education should be free from the usual woes of profiting etc. How that is managed, I don't have the full answer.

    It's a tough call because so much is needed to keep it all afloat. There are too many ifs and buts. You can get student loans, but if the job market collapses, you're just lumbered with debt. Even if its "free debt" that won't tie you down until you get a job, just the thought of knowing it is still a debt can cause stress to somebodies life. I know it would to me, that's why I've been thinking off and on about attending a open university course if I could. Debt is debt to me.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well education can't be free - that's a simple one. It's just a question of who pays. There's also the question as to who we educate in what.

    I'd argue very strongly that there are plenty of university courses around that no one should be wasting their money on, not the student, not the government, not the tax payer, and not a sponsoring company (although the latter would have more sense).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think the deeper problem is that everyone expects things for free these days. Someone has to pay for them some day.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If they earn more over their lifetime, then they also pay more tax over their lifetime. Problem solved.

    The trouble is they may not pay that tax to the UK Government...

    However luckily there is a more effective solution where they're loaned the money up front, which pays for the cost of their course and which they're still liable for if they leave the UK and its tax regime. And if they don;t earn enough they don't need to pay more and if they do earn lots they still pay more tax. (In effect they are paying a tax, albeit one more targetted for a specific purpose)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well education can't be free - that's a simple one. It's just a question of who pays. There's also the question as to who we educate in what.

    I'd argue very strongly that there are plenty of university courses around that no one should be wasting their money on, not the student, not the government, not the tax payer, and not a sponsoring company (although the latter would have more sense).

    That's true, but it may not be the courses people say they are. I know things like Golf Course Management get a bad press, but if you're planning to run a Golf Course I'd say its pretty good (plus it teaches things like accounting, business management etc which are transferrable).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Education can be free. Most education is free.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Derek Bok wrote:
    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

    :yes:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    I think the deeper problem is that everyone expects things for free these days. Someone has to pay for them some day.

    I agree. I have no problem paying for my education - espeically given that the first 13 years or so were free.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    £9000 a year is nothing compared to what international students are charged. Someone has to pay and the Government have made the policy decision that the students will pay, not the Government. The £9000 fees have come about because the Government's withdrawn funding for most courses; the actual courses have always cost about £9000 to deliver, it's just HEFCE paid and not the student.

    As for the OU, they're charging the market rate. £5000 for a 50%FTE course, with free textbooks, is the market rate. Whether people think they're worth it, or whether they'd rather study down the road at their local bricks-and-mortar university, is a matter for each individual student.

    As for the student loans issues, I can see what BIS were trying to do, but my goodness they've screwed it up big time. You only have to read the white paper to see that much. The consultation on penalty charges for repaying loans early is a masterclass in missing the point.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Well education can't be free - that's a simple one. It's just a question of who pays. There's also the question as to who we educate in what.

    I'd argue very strongly that there are plenty of university courses around that no one should be wasting their money on, not the student, not the government, not the tax payer, and not a sponsoring company (although the latter would have more sense).
    I think you'll actually find in many cases some so-called 'mickey mouse' courses are actually developed by universities in partnership with employers, I think it's the case for many 'applied' and 'vocational' (btw do people not realise Medicine is, by definition, a vocational course?) courses anyway, which are usually criticised to fk by the media.

    But where would you say the line should be drawn? The idea seems to be only pay for what is 'useful the country'. So what is useful to country? Physics, medicine, maths, chemistry, biology and engineering are commonly thrown up. So what about law, history, geography, psychology, etc?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Everyone has a different idea of what a 'mickey mouse' degree course is and a lot of it is subjective opinion. I did law and politics so would argue that neither of those are 'mickey mouse' but my Physicist friends disagree most strongly.

    The Government has made a policy decision that the only courses to be funded are those where there are a shortage of skills, i.e. engineering, some science courses, or where there is a national benefit in funding the course, e.g. most NHS vocational courses, social work vocational courses. Personally I'd be inclined to agree with that assessment- most degrees benefit the student not the nation as a whole. We certainly don't need more lawyers.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The real problem here, is the fact everyone EXPECTS to go to uni. It's a well known thing, in most school, and since i was about 10? That you do GCSE's, then A levels, then UNI, and you get a nice job. That's what everyones told. Where as it shouldn't be like that, too many people have degree's and such now that their meaning is lesser than before. Like years ago, if you came out UNI with a degree, companies would eat you alive, just so you'd work with them. Now? You leave UNI, and is it fuck do you get a job earning £25K+ a year.

    University needs to get it's status back, as well as degree's and other forms of education. Then when employers and companies start respecting them again. That £9,000 a year fee will seem worth it.

    Something i learnt when i was about 3 years old. Nothing in life is FREE. Ever. Apart from hugs, they're free. Wish people would stop complaining about things that happen for a very justified reason.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think everyone does expect to go to University and I don't think that the value of a degree is any lower than it used to be. As for wages, money isn't the only barometer of a "good job" and earning £25,000 a year puts you in the top 1.5% of earners in the whole world.

    Equally getting a degree doesn't mean that you are actually capable of working in the top jobs, it's far more complicated than that. But rest assured that the top employer still spend a lot of time and money investing in recruiting the top students to their companies. I work for a prestigious University students' union and the big companies spend a lot of time and money advertising to our students.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To my mind, a course that's not worth is one that doesn't actively teach something over the time scale it claims it should.

    A full time course should be just that full time. That means, if you're on a full time course, and paying for a full time course, you should be learning full time. That doesn't mean being taught full time, but sufficient content to fill 40 hours a week of properly learning.

    Generally science courses do a better job of that, because they come with more structure and more contact time, but an essay a term and 3 hours teaching a week is unlikely to add up to full time study on any course.

    ( I realise I may have a very different attitude to some)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    Education can be free. Most education is free.

    Education can never be free. Teachers cost, premises cost, and resources cost. It's just a question of who pays, the user or the state.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Think about the assumption you're making. I stand by my statement- most education is free.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    Think about the assumption you're making. I stand by my statement- most education is free.

    Yeah, it also depends on if anyone is willing to put the effort into teaching people or publishing materials for free. Khan Academy on YouTube alone does absolute wonders. There are also many universities that run YouTube channels (Nottingham with http://www.periodicvideos.com for example). Many top universities offer online courses free, from booklets, exams, videos etc. MIT is a huge player in this field (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/). Open Univerisity also has OpenLearn (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk) even though that could arguably not be as big as it should be.

    Education is free, always, its just dependent on those willing to share information without gaining financially (over educating first, I must say.)

    edit: to add

    The big problem I think here is the employability of having studied any of these courses, since arguably you are learning out of date materials (even though that is a moot point in university regardless, ICT alone is said to be outdated by the time you've stared your 3rd year since it progresses so much every 2 years) or that you've not had correct guidance or anything worth your weight in studying, apart from a piece of paper and a electronic record saying you did it and no way to prove you actually did it.

    Employers and society are too fixated now on a piece of paper, I could sit in a room for 6-8 hours one day being spoken to about health and safety, I could take NONE of it in, yet at the end of it I get a certificate saying I studied it. I see their point, since it wastes time and money, costing thousands just to go to the trouble of screening a potential candidate before they're even hired, but there must be a easier way to go about it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katralla wrote: »
    Think about the assumption you're making. I stand by my statement- most education is free.

    Assuming you are saying what I think you are saying I agree.

    Qualifications may cost, but you can educate yourself for almost no cost to yourself or anyone else (perhaps not technically for free, but certainly extremely cheaply)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm saying there are all sorts of ways of being educated and being in a classroom, or even taking a distance course is just one way. Other examples are education through autonomous research, passed on via our parents, siblings, peers and randoms in the pub - this is why I think most education is free. It's a shame people have such high regard for classroom education, or at least a shame that its high regard has blinkered some people to the extent that they can consider it to be the only or most legitimate form of education. I consider the best way to educate yourself is to ask questions, which costs nothing.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The trouble is they may not pay that tax to the UK Government...

    Yeah, but you know that the vast majority obviously will.

    As for it only benefiting the individual student, if people can't see the national benefit in having a highly educated population, then there really is no hope. It seems to me that there's no argument on this thread that says why the arbitrary cut-off point in funding should be after A-levels but before degree level, rather than after degree level but before masters. Unless, of course, you're arguing that all education should be funded by a series of loans, because apparently education only benefits the individual.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Shikari wrote:
    The real problem here, is the fact everyone EXPECTS to go to uni. It's a well known thing, in most school, and since i was about 10? That you do GCSE's, then A levels, then UNI, and you get a nice job. That's what everyones told. Where as it shouldn't be like that, too many people have degree's and such now that their meaning is lesser than before. Like years ago, if you came out UNI with a degree, companies would eat you alive, just so you'd work with them. Now? You leave UNI, and is it fuck do you get a job earning £25K+ a year.

    University needs to get it's status back, as well as degree's and other forms of education. Then when employers and companies start respecting them again. That £9,000 a year fee will seem worth it.

    Something i learnt when i was about 3 years old. Nothing in life is FREE. Ever. Apart from hugs, they're free. Wish people would stop complaining about things that happen for a very justified reason.
    Hmm, try convincing the rest of the world that. It's not just Britain that's having a huge increase in university educated people, but the rest of the Western world (something like 6/10 Americans go onto Further Education) and even the East. Lots of people in countries like China, India, the Philippines, and so on are getting educated at university, so surely if this country wants to remain somewhat competitive in this world, then more university educated people is better than less? This isn't 1960 anymore where you can leave school at 15 and just get a job or learn a trade, the 2011 job market doesn't even remotely resemble what it did back then.

    I disagree with you on 'everyone' going to uni. That's a vast exaggeration. I know that Labour had a target of getting something like 50% of people university educated, but they didn't achieve that by a long shot and I left uniformed/compulsory education only two years ago and I know only handful of people that stayed at sixth form or went and studied courses to go to uni, and my school had really good GCSE results.

    @Katralla

    True. It generally doesn't cost much to go to a library and read up on a topic you like.. or use the internet to learn about the topic. Providing you're reasonable intelligent enough to not base it all on Wikipedia or any newspaper site, of course.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yeah, but you know that the vast majority obviously will.

    As for it only benefiting the individual student, if people can't see the national benefit in having a highly educated population, then there really is no hope. It seems to me that there's no argument on this thread that says why the arbitrary cut-off point in funding should be after A-levels but before degree level, rather than after degree level but before masters. Unless, of course, you're arguing that all education should be funded by a series of loans, because apparently education only benefits the individual.

    I'm not sure the argument is that it only benefits the individual, more that the they benefit disproportionately more than everyone else. So yes, the poorly paid cleaner and receptionist do benefit from being employed in a mlulti-national accountancy firmed, which wouldn't exist without graduate lawyers - just not as much as the lawyers.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yeah, but you know that the vast majority obviously will.

    As for it only benefiting the individual student, if people can't see the national benefit in having a highly educated population, then there really is no hope. It seems to me that there's no argument on this thread that says why the arbitrary cut-off point in funding should be after A-levels but before degree level, rather than after degree level but before masters. Unless, of course, you're arguing that all education should be funded by a series of loans, because apparently education only benefits the individual.

    There is someone (not on here) who thinks we should fund education up to PhD level. Why? Not everyone needs a PhD and for some, experience is better than 5 years plus of university.

    I think education benefits the company that someone works for, too. As part of my degree, I've had to work in groups (online and in the classroom) and had to self evaluate and evaluate other peoples' work.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm not sure the argument is that it only benefits the individual, more that the they benefit disproportionately more than everyone else. So yes, the poorly paid cleaner and receptionist do benefit from being employed in a mlulti-national accountancy firmed, which wouldn't exist without graduate lawyers - just not as much as the lawyers.

    But if that's true, they're taxed more an pay for that extra benefit accordingly. There's already a system under which the people that benefit the most are made to contribute the most. So I really don't see any principled argument that education in particular should be singled out for further separation in this way. The only arguments are practical ones. Does the country benefit financially from funding everyone's education and if so how far? There is already a facility where needed professions are given extra funding. Go into teaching, and your education is funded up to masters level. Become a doctor and you're educated even further. So the real question is whether the country benefits financially from having a large percentage of degree-educated people. Do you see diminishing returns above a certain level? Does funding certain subjects contribute more than others? Because while we can all have a good laugh about the odd mickey mouse course (which often turns out to be nothing of the sort), I doubt there are many degree courses that don't teach a large number of transferable skills that are valuable to employers.

    The answer is that of course having a highly-educated population benefits the economy. If they didn't, then what this government would effectively be doing is saddling future generations with debts when it turns out these expensive degrees weren't so valuable after all, and the government is left with a black hole of unpaid loans. We already have a system whereby the people who do best from the education system contribute the most to it in the future, so don't try and pretend this has anything to do with that. What this is about is raising revenue for universities without having to raise taxes. It's purely a politically motivated move. The individualistic rhetoric is a red herring.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    But if that's true, they're taxed more an pay for that extra benefit accordingly. There's already a system under which the people that benefit the most are made to contribute the most. So I really don't see any principled argument that education in particular should be singled out for further separation in this way. The only arguments are practical ones. Does the country benefit financially from funding everyone's education and if so how far? There is already a facility where needed professions are given extra funding. Go into teaching, and your education is funded up to masters level. Become a doctor and you're educated even further. So the real question is whether the country benefits financially from having a large percentage of degree-educated people. Do you see diminishing returns above a certain level? Does funding certain subjects contribute more than others? Because while we can all have a good laugh about the odd mickey mouse course (which often turns out to be nothing of the sort), I doubt there are many degree courses that don't teach a large number of transferable skills that are valuable to employers.

    The answer is that of course having a highly-educated population benefits the economy. If they didn't, then what this government would effectively be doing is saddling future generations with debts when it turns out these expensive degrees weren't so valuable after all, and the government is left with a black hole of unpaid loans. We already have a system whereby the people who do best from the education system contribute the most to it in the future, so don't try and pretend this has anything to do with that. What this is about is raising revenue for universities without having to raise taxes. It's purely a politically motivated move. The individualistic rhetoric is a red herring.

    But the tax isn't as effective - not only does it cease if someone goes abroad, but people who never went to university and who don't benefit as much as someone who did also pay - so in many cases those who benefit most from it don't neccessarily pay (and bear in mind that even with up-front loans that the taxpayer is still subsidising the univeristy system)

    And of course its to stop raising taxes from the general populace (and instead putting what is in effect an up-front tax on people who will benefit the most), you seem to think that's a bad thing, I don't - in both cases that is a political decision (as is increasing the numbe of university places).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The answer is that of course having a highly-educated population benefits the economy.

    It's possible to be highly educated and not have a degree from university. Not everyone needs a degree.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    How did Sweden/Finland/Norway afford free higher education and we can't? Granted they have smaller populations, but then there's less people to tax as well.

    I wouldn't have been able to afford higher education if it were £3K a year. I got in the year before the changes.

    So not everybody goes to university. I don't consider myself to be from a poor background (though certainly working class) and I had to work two jobs to keep my head above water.

    I think that there are more than one issues here...

    Firstly, that if we are coming from the angle that everyone is equal, then people shouldn't be discriminated against for the socio-economic conditions within which they were born, by not being able to afford university.

    Secondly, that pay needs to be better and there need to be more options for people who are less academic. Apprenticeships are shit pay and again, not everybody can live off them.

    Blue collar jobs usually pay really shit and now, competition is so fierce, we have the least amount of 16-18 year olds in work in a decade. Many people go to university with the hope of getting a job that pays better and having a career, but shouldn't all jobs pay well enough for people to keep a roof over their head, their bills paid and have enough so they can have a social life, continue education part time, or so they can save up for something nice?

    I think less people would go to university if there was a more abundant job market, which offered a living wage and affordable accommodation.

    ETA: I went to a conference today on youth services. Some guy said that the bankers' bonuses of 2010 (from tax payer money) could keep all the youth services in England and Wales open for another 20 years. I don't think affordability of state education is a cost of how much is in the pot, but where the money is spent and who is or ain't payin' their taxes.
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