Thursday, November 25, 2010

University: Who Pays?

Many parts of Europe are "reforming" their educational fees systems; seeking to assess higher tuition fees for university. (In Sweden, where I live, university students still pay no tuition fees). Educational access to all who are qualified, regardless of family wealth, is a worthy goal threatened by high tuition fees.

There are assorted good arguments for raising tuition, but good arguments against the practice are often unheard. Many functions of university, most university costs and investments, have little or nothing to do with undergraduate education. Why should prospective students pay?

The people making the decisions, politicians and others throughout society, have already received heavily subsidized education. Many of their arguments for "students paying their way" are also relevant to their own educational backgrounds. Why not consider retroactive cost assessment? Noisy proponents of higher fees can themselves "pay their way" - reducing higher education costs for teenagers.

[When I submitted this letter to The Independent, they cut out the last paragraph - perhaps guiltily unwilling to advocate repaying the educational benefits editors had themselves received.]