There are few things that are well received on the internet. Videos of cats, articles regarding travel and university memes. The popularity of these memes come from how relatable they are as most of these memes revolve around how university students are in debt from paying tuition.
All over the world, higher education is known for its increasingly hefty price tag which is above the range of many. But it is believed having a degree improves your chances of securing a promising position, which in turn, generates a higher income. This is why there continues to be a high demand for higher education and qualifications.
Due to the inability to afford what universities are asking for, the majority of students pursuing a degree or some form of higher education apply for loans. Unfortunately, these loans also have a high interest rate. According to The Times, “interest is charged from the day students take out the loan, so three years of interest has accrued by the time they graduate”. Depending on how long it takes for the student to pay off their loans, the interest itself could prove to be insurmountable. It goes to show that the logical thing to do, is to pay off the loans as they go.
Many students turn to part time work in attempt to ease their financial burden. This has spawned such a demand that there are many vacancies aimed at uni-students: placements, internships, or freelancing such as doing essays for money.
Writing essays for other students can be a lucrative venture. According to The Guardian, one student working under Oxbridge Essays has earned roughly $3000 for 10 assignments between the word count of 1,500 to 16,000 words. The company was established back in 2005, and it is still fully functioning today.
Aside from being employed, there are other methods in trying to achieve a debt-free degree. There is a program called Registered Education Savings Plan (RESPs) in Canada which gives you an additional 20% of your deposits and many developed countries should also have similar programs. There are also grants and scholarships from established foundations and various organizations.
Despite the countermeasures taken for student loan and excessive debts. Forbes reported that $1.3 trillion student debts are owed in America, this year alone.
Now based on the amount mentioned and the affordability of pursuing a degree, it is reasonable to assume that tertiary education should be considered overpriced. The answer to why it is as expensive as it is, can be found in an article by Forbes in which they called it a marketing strategy; “culture and the government have foolishly increased demand for higher education way beyond what is reasonable, to give gifts to petit-bourgeois families and because of a foolish ‘knowledge economy’ ideology”.
In 2016, three years after publishing the aforementioned article, Forbes wrote another piece regarding the inflation of university tuition fees and how to reduce it. They offered the idea of a student-faculty union that pushes for institutes to “move away from a model where the administration and the board of directors are the sole decision-makers”.
Regardless of whether it is possible to have institutions offering their degrees at a lower price, there are a few feasible solutions to this problem.
A university in Spain, Mondragon University, permits students to help decide how much they should pay and in effect, determine the salaries of lecturers. This movement has inspired The Co-Operative College to move in that direction. There are also free universities one might consider. However, that might prove to be worthless in a society that upholds degree-holders as free universities do not provide certification, only knowledge.
But how important are degrees, really? Findings from a popular employment agency, LinkedIn, suggests that degrees are becoming less valuable. Back in the day, it was considered a privilege and a mark of personal success to achieve one. Nowadays, it has become increasingly common. There are individuals reporting that their degrees are “close to worthless” due to the fact that they are unable to find jobs in their relevant fields as they do not have sufficient experience.
Mises Institute, an Austrian scholar run website shared their opinions regarding the decline in degrees, claiming that graduates do not possess coherent critical thinking skills and lack the skills necessary for their relevant fields of study. On top of that, they questioned the safety of campuses, citing the disruption of The Evergreen State College.
Perhaps it is time to relook into our education system and the value in which we place in a mere piece of paper that costs tens of thousands to procure. A vocational or trade school would be far more beneficial to employers who wants to find talents who knows the practical aspects of their trade rather than having to spend the time in training them.
Another aspect we should not neglect are online courses which are affordable, convenient and highly customizable according to each individual’s needs. However, we should also bear in mind that certain degrees and certifications are irreplaceable through online courses or vocational school. These fields include but are not limited to medicine, lawyers and engineers.