Nicholas Barr (2003), in his paper first put forward introducing tuition fees. He suggested that higher education should continue to be funded because it helps society. If universities are free, problems such as lowering in teaching standard may occur as a result of shortage for cash. This will in turn put lots of pressure on the government to solve it. The government has to spend more money on supporting the universities to keep it running. Furthermore, with an increasing student population will further reduce the shrinking labour force. This will put additional pressure on the government finances. (T.Pettinger, 2007)
Since the universities can get money from the tuition fees, they can build some new and better facilities for students, such as teaching buildings, a gym, and other recreational facilities. More cash also means the university can offer a higher salary to attract better teachers.
“Tuition fees enable more investment in UK universities. It will also help attract and keep the best teachers and researchers. At the moment, the UK loses many top researchers to the US, where salaries are mostly double the UK” (T.Pettinger: Economics help 2007)
Moreover, universities can use that money to do research to help the country develop. Therefore, from above points, paying tuition fees can bring many benefits for the society.
On the other hand, those authors who support free universities suggested otherwise. There are many students who are poor but intelligent and hard working; they may not be able to get support from their family, so how can they pay for universities? It forces many students to take part time jobs while studying (BBC News, 2007). Part time jobs may lead to many problems for students. For example, it can introduce stress and distract attention from study. Although the UK government alleged that students do not need to get part time jobs because they can take out a Student Loan (which can cover tuition fees, accommodation and other living costs), many have done this. However, student loans can be a disincentive to get a better-paid job, because those low paid jobs do not need to pay them back (T.Pettinger, 2007). Nicholas Barr (2003) also argues that low earners make low or no repayments and people who never earn much do not repay their loan. Do the students have enough responsibility to return the money? What happen if they cannot find a good job after graduation? According to (T.Pettinger, 2007)
“Going into debt may discourage students going to university, Debt can create stress and there is a high % of defaults on student loans”
Student debt is therefore thought to be a burden for students and an increasing problem for the society.
In addition, it is necessary to consider how a student will contribute to the society after graduation. For example, a qualified doctor helps treat other people. People with degrees can become teachers and impart knowledge. Students can be the scientist and find new technology.
there is one more point must be considered that is how students will contribute to the country after graduation. The result is to help the country develop. (Student Loans, 2007) Therefore, the social benefits of universities are higher than private benefits and university education gives benefits to the rest of society (Liverpool Echo, 2003).
Therefore, self-funding may not be a fair option. And some people believe that the best way is to make Higher education totally free.
In conclusion, I have demonstrated in this essay that there are arguments to support the view that there are positives and negatives for students paying for their tuition fees. If higher education is free or students are paying tuition fees, both can lead to many problems from the authors point. Conversely, they can also both bring benefits for our society. In my opinion, we ought to pay for higher education; however, some of the subjects, such as science, medicine and education should be free to encourage more students to come to study.
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Higher education is not a commodity. In most countries, including China, primary education and partly secondary education are compulsory and funded by the state. But there is a controversial debate among the public as to whether higher education is a commodity. There is a tendency that higher education is becoming a commodity due to globalisation. The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) facilitates this through opening up all walks of our life, including education, to international capital, and then transforms higher education into just another commodity that can be traded in a free market governed by the laws of supply and demand. The GATS and other agreements on trade in services are changing the conception of education into ‘a tradable commodity’ (Kuehn, 2000:2).
It is unacceptable to trade education because it is naturally one of the basic human rights. Education is a fundamental human right that is confirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948) and the UN Covenant on Social, Cultural and Economic Rights (UN, 1966). In the current Constitution of China, every citizen in China has ‘the right as well as the duty to receive education’ (NPC, 1982). A human right cannot be traded. Moreover, it is held by many people that higher education is a ‘cultural transmission and personal cognitive and social development’ rooted in particular social and cultural contexts (Kuehn, 2000:2).
In essence, universities are the centre where human civilisation is created and disseminated, not markets where products are traded; and also higher education is a public good serving all human beings. For centuries, universities have performed a crucial function in the human society, providing higher education in practical fields of knowledge as well as preserving cultural traditions.
Some people may argue that higher education has a commercial value, i.e., investing financially in one’s higher education guarantees one’s future and increases one’s earning power. However, higher education prepares young people for the whole of their adult lives, rather than just providing them with skills for employment. Higher education not only enhances the dignity of the individual, but also in the long term promotes the common good in a society. Higher education plays such an important role for the human society that universities have been sponsored by the state or the church throughout a long history.
It has been well documented that investing in education is beneficial to the individual, society and the economy, not only in pecuniary terms but also social and psychic development. This discourse will address the decision-making processes with regards to undertaking a degree course at university in England and Wales. In particular, the economic and circumstantial reasons why people from lower socio-economic groups feel there are barriers to higher education will be discussed. These barriers can lead to restriction of access to the more rewarding jobs in the labour market and so reducing the chances of moving up the social class ladder.
There is evidence to demonstrate that graduate salaries are considerably higher than non-graduate salaries at the same age. Analysis by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit of the Labour Force Survey 2001 shows that the graduate salary is 61% greater than that of non-graduates of all ages (Higher Education Careers Services Unit, 2001).
Research shows participation at less than twenty percent of young people from lower social classes (IIIm, IV and V) and forty-five percent from higher social classes (IIIn, II and I) (Connor et al, 2001). In order to investigate the influencing factors, it is necessary to understand the effects on a middle class student with average ability deciding whether to attend university.
Empirical evidence from a survey conducted for the Department for Education and Employment shows that 39% of respondents from lower social classes did not wish to enter higher education because they wanted to start employment and become independent, and 28% were worried about the cost of studying (Connor et al., 2001a).
In conclusion, there are many measurable pecuniary benefits on completion of higher education. If the individuals in the lower socio-economic groups undertake higher education the rate of return on that investment will be beneficial and could lead to a change in social class. However, there are many barriers that discourage them from participating ranging from cost of study to family background and institutional prejudice. Therefore policy makers need to act in order to widen this participation.
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