Students expected to lower aspirations

Barbara Gunnell (IF Co-Founder) writes for openDemocracy on how one of the best university systems in the world is being reshaped to suit the needs of business.

Read an extract below, or the full piece here

Since 2012 and the increase in university fees, effectively to £9,000 a year, there has been a steady erosion of logic in the debate about universities, their funding and the fundamental purpose of a university education....

If the core principle is that an individual should pay for a degree-course because it might secure him or her a better-paid career over a lifetime,  then surely this would apply equally to secondary school education. Those who have a secondary education are clearly more likely to get higher paid jobs than if they finished school or stopped paying attention at, say, 11. But, you could argue, why is the taxpayer coughing up for any individual child to have a better career?  Why not save the taxpayer money and make parents pay for any secondary education (if it is needed). Poorer families could of course take out loans to finance their children's secondary education as they now have to do to finance their university education .

And why stop there? Children who absorb basic primary skills are more likely to get a job than those who can barely read or write. Should the state be paying for this? Since an increasing number of jobs today - shelf-stacking, warehouse packing, cleaning etc – require no formal education at all, why not abandon the whole state education exercise? Those who want their children to have a better career can simply hire tutors and if needs be take out loans on behalf of their toddlers.  

In short, if an individual’s education at any level is seen purely an investment for a future economic return to the individual, then perhaps the government has no business spending any money at all on education. 

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