Free University Education
Debate Rounds (4)
I, as Con, will argue that university education should not be free (i.e university courses are paid for entirely by the student or on his/her behalf, whether by upfront payment or a student loan).
Pro will argue that university should be free, which is to say that the student does not pay any of the financial cost for his/her university course.
Burden of Proof is shared.
University: 'a high-level educational institution in which students study for degrees and academic research is done.' (1)
Free: 'without cost or payment' (2)
Rules / structure
No acceptance without requesting participation in the comments
(1) Google: 'Define university'
(2) Google: 'Define free'
Sorry for the delay - I have been very busy recently..
Right, so I will argue that we should not have free university education. I will now present multiple reasons for this.
1. University is not a right
The right to education is widely accepted and is upheld by the UN Declaration of Human Rights (1). Yet this right is only for education that is considered essential to be a productive citizen and to allow one to engage in the pursuit of happiness.
University, in contrast, is a non-essential addition to core education. It is designed to educate the brightest in our society to do the most challenging jobs such as doctors, lawyers or architects. It is by no means designed, nor is it suitable, to be a form of education that should be provided to everyone as a right.
So why should the government provide free university tuition if people don't have a right to it?
2. It is unfair on those who don't go to university
In most cases, a university degree can be a huge help in getting a well paid job in the future, so it is only fair that if someone is going to get a financial benefit from going to university, then they should be expected to financially subsidise it.
If university is free, then graduates gain a financial advantage whereas those who don't go to university will not get this advantage. This is unfair to the latter. If the financial advantage that graduates receive is balanced out by requiring them to pay for their tuition, then no group has a disadvantage.
3. It will devalue university education
As it is, many students do not value university education and would rather use the experience as a chance to party and get drunk every night. The main reason that actually prevents most students from behaving like this is that they are paying £9000 a year for their education and so it is their own money, not the government's, that they are wasting.
If this changed, and the state began to provide free university education, then students will naturally take this for granted, and use the three year course as a chance to have lots of sex, drugs and alcohol. After all, it's not like they're paying for it!
4. It will encourage more people to attend university
This may sound like a good thing, but in our job climate it certainly isn't!
Nearly 50% of people go to university (2) and this number is rising, yet only 27% of jobs require an associate degree. (3)
So if university is made free, then we would be paying for thousands of people to be educated for jobs that do not exist.
Free university would no doubt encourage university education, but this would further saturate the already saturated graduate-job market. Many graduates are unemployed because employers have begun to realise that work experience is often preferential to a degree.
Moreover, encouraging young people to go to university will teach them the message that having a trade is not as worthy as a degree, despite the evidence suggesting otherwise. It also breeds a culture of entitlement where young people feel 'above' manual labour, and so employers have to recruit from third world countries to get unskilled labour. This further leads to overpopulation and a strain on public services that is the inevitable consequence of excessive immigration.
Finally, too much university education in a competitive job market does young people a disservice. It polarises their job prospects so they are only willing to take specific jobs, for example if someone has a law degree then they will most likely only take jobs in the law industry, despite their being other jobs. Again, this leads to immigration as employers must look overseas in order to find people to do the jobs that graduates would rather not do.
So ultimately, the last thing we want to do is encourage people to go to university!
My opponent has stated that the right to free education as listed in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights does not necessarily apply to tertiary education. This is true, as what the text actually says is "Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit." (1) However, it does state that everyone has a right to education and that education shall be made "generally available and equally accessible to all."(1) College education in many countries is ridiculously expensive, and, as a result of this, education is not "generally available and equally accessible to all." People may not be able to afford being burdened with massive bills and/or student loans. They may have a family to feed but can't do so on their current salary and want to go to college so that they can earn more money, but due to the increased Harvardization of higher education, the potential increase in salary will be offset by paying for college. Granted, a small percentage of the population is rich enough that they can just afford college easily with money from their own pockets, but this elite is not representative of the majority of the populace in countries where higher education is not communal or nearly communal.
My opponent has stated that college is non-essential, non-core education, when in fact an average of 2 years of college education are dedicated to core learning.
My opponent has stated that college is for only the brightest in our society to do the most cognitively challenging jobs, such as that of a physician, lawyer, architect, etc., while himself admitting that nearly half of people (not sure where he's referring to, though) have attended/are attending/will attend college according to current rates. This is contradictory, as highly specialized academic professionals such as those listed by my opponent make up well below half of employed people.
My opponent has stated that making college free is unfair on those who don't attend college. This is a self-disproving argument, though, as, if college were free, these people who don't attend college would be able to remedy the issue by, you guessed it, going to college. For free.
My opponent has stated that free education will make people want to do more drugs and alcohol because they're not paying for the arbitrary cost of college. I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind this, but I suppose he's referring to the stigma that college students retain when it comes to partying and whatnot, and that they would care less about their education because the money is not coming out of their pocket. This isn't really an issue, though, because people that behave that way in a setting with free higher education would either clean up their act or be filtered out of the system, just as is the case in countries where college is not free. And countries where college is free generally have a higher population percentage with degrees, so obviously most people don't behave as my opponent has suggested.
My opponent has stated that attending an absolutely free university that only serves to widen your options is a bad thing somehow. He seems to believe that this will decrease the size of the pool from which countries draw unskilled labor. It won't. Even assuming that there is a low carrying capacity for educated jobs, as my opponent suggests there is, those who don't manage to land one will just end up doing lower-paying jobs, just as they do in countries where college is not free. They wouldn't have to worry about paying for student loans on this low salary because, again, college would be free. There would be roughly the same percentage of people working these unskilled jobs because, going along with the hypothetical situation that my opponent established wherein there is a small carrying capacity for educated jobs, only a set number of people won't have low-paying jobs anyway. Plus, these people with low-paying jobs will have a degree that gives them increased potential to advance their status and makes for an educated, intelligent, well-informed populace.
My opponent says that going to college breeds a sense of entitlement, and that graduates won't want to work low-paying jobs. Some will have to, though, if, as my opponent said, there is only a set number of academic careers.
My opponent has stated that "If the financial advantage that graduates receive is balanced out by requiring them to pay for their tuition, then no group has a disadvantage." This is true, except for people who can't afford to pay for college. Which, in many countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., etc., is, you know, most people. Plus, if education is free, this whole point can be disregarded because *everyone can attend college.* They don't have to stay at a disadvantage if they don't want to.
My opponent has stated that "so it is only fair that if someone is going to get a financial benefit from going to university, then they should be expected to financially subsidise it." There are these magical things called taxes. They are for things that benefit the public, like free education and such. They're pretty handy in situations such as these.
Thank you Pericles :)
Cost of university
My opponent's main argument is that the cost of university disproportionately harms the poor, and hence university education isn't "generally available and equally accessible to all."
But that is the reason we have student loans! If one gets a university place, they will almost certainly get a student loan. This means that there is no immediate financial barrier to going to university. No matter if someone is living in poverty, they will be able to go to university because of student loans.
Therefore, the statement that free university education is needed to make it available and accessible to all is just not true.
'My opponent has stated that college is for only the brightest in our society to do the most cognitively challenging jobs, such as that of a physician, lawyer, architect, etc., while himself admitting that nearly half of people (not sure where he's referring to, though) have attended/are attending/will attend college according to current rates.'
I do not contradict myself, because the former is what university should be and what it was designed for, and the latter is what university has actually turned out to be.
Until 1997, university was just for those who required specialist education to do the most cognitively challenging jobs, but when Tony Blair became Prime Minister in the UK, he instigated a 'student drive' that wanted 50% of young people to attend university (1).
So the concept of university education being the norm is a relatively new one, and it has had negative consequences - namely regarding the over-saturation of the graduate market. There are simply too many graduates.
'My opponent has stated that making college free is unfair on those who don't attend college. This is a self-disproving argument, though, as, if college were free, these people who don't attend college would be able to remedy the issue by, you guessed it, going to college. For free.'
Well yes, but as I have made very clear, we do not want everyone to go to university! Only 27% of jobs require a degree, so the last thing we need to be doing is encourage everyone to go to university by subsidising it.
Value of university
My opponent argues that those who do drugs and party excessively will be filtered out of the system. I agree with this, but generally those who don't take university seriously are only kicked out at the end of the year (i.e when they fail the year), by that time two things have happened:
1. £9000 has been wasted
2. From the government's perspective, they have lost one year's worth of tax revenue from a person partying at university instead of working.
So, although those who don't take university seriously will eventually be kicked out, it is better to have university fees so:
a) They are less likely to attend a university in the first place
b) They will be less likely to waste £9000 if they have to foot the bill.
'And countries where college is free generally have a higher population percentage with degrees, so obviously most people don't behave as my opponent has suggested.'
The reason for that is simply that more people go to university in countries with free university - I still maintain that more people would use university as a three-year party.
Benefits of university?
'My opponent has stated that attending an absolutely free university that only serves to widen your options is a bad thing somehow. He seems to believe that this will decrease the size of the pool from which countries draw unskilled labor. It won't. '
Except most graduates don't think like that. If someone has spent three years extra in education, being told they will get a graduate job, they would naturally feel entitled to a graduate job and will often refuse to work in other jobs.
Moreover, they would generally only want to work in a job that accords with their degree (for example, a law graduate would only want to work as a lawyer), so instead it seems that a degree actually narrows one's prospects - at least from a psychological perspective.
'those who don't manage to land one will just end up doing lower-paying jobs'
Even if graduates do decide to do this - if they are just going to go into low-paying jobs eventually then why shouldn't they just go straight into them after high-school? If a graduate doesn't take a graduate job, then the £27000 cost of a university course is essentially wasted.
'Plus, these people with low-paying jobs will have a degree that gives them increased potential to advance their status and makes for an educated, intelligent, well-informed populace.'
But if these people want to 'advance their status' then they will not be committed to doing the low-paying job they are doing now, also, if people doing low-payed jobs are always looking for a chance to get a better job, then any resembelance of stability will be lost from these industries.
Furthermore, those who choose not to go to university are not necessarily less intelligent, educated or well-informed than those who do go to university, as real-world experience often develops wisdom in a more beneficial way than theoretical education does. Evidence for this is how employers generally value experience over qualifications.
Universities, on the other hand, only really cater to educate someone in a specific field, instead of the holistic education that is needed for a well-functioning member of society. Moreover, the anarchism that is rife in student communities can even foster a desire to not conform to society.
'My opponent says that going to college breeds a sense of entitlement, and that graduates won't want to work low-paying jobs. Some will have to, though, if, as my opponent said, there is only a set number of academic careers.'
Or, as is shown by the high-levels of graduate unemployment (2), they will just resort to claiming benefits until their 'dream job' turns up.
'This is true, except for people who can't afford to pay for college.'
These people do not exist, because there is such a thing as a student loan.
'Plus, if education is free, this whole point can be disregarded because *everyone can attend college.* They don't have to stay at a disadvantage if they don't want to.'
And we definitely do not want everyone to go to college. Considering that only 27% of jobs require an associate degree, it is economic madness for a government to spend £27000 per person to be educated for a job that likely does not exist.
"No immediate financial barrier" does not mean "no financial barrier." Many sensible people aren't going to throw themselves tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt for college, and, due to these risks, won't go to college. If someone gave you a choice between getting one punch in the face, or some Tylenol and two punches in the face after you took it, you might very reasonably choose one punch in the face. The same principle applies. You may very well make up the money for the student loan eventually, but until that time it can be a very crippling long-term financial burden that can severely limit one's choices in life. Many people cannot take this risk, and so are therefore unable to go to college.
Adding to this point, when risk is removed from the situation, people may be more bold in courses and careers that they choose to take, which could lead to the filling of high-demand jobs that require tertiary education, such as nurses or web designers. This gives back to society as a whole, further compounding on the reasons why this benefits the public and is worthy of tax dollars.
My opponent continues to insist that people with degrees will refuse to work out of their degree area. I highly doubt, especially with the student loans that my opponent advocates, that graduates would rather sink into unemployment than, probably temporarily, get a disagreeable job.
My opponent uses the U.K. as a representation of the world, even though it accounts for less than 1% of the world's population.
My opponent's main point seems to be that we don't want more college students. As stated above, he uses numbers exclusively from the U.K. I could attempt to prove him incorrect within the U.K. specifically, but, as aforementioned, the U.K. is not representative of the world or even the West as a whole. Unless more applicable data is provided, I will assume that the provided data and the directly corresponding arguments are not valid. This allows me to move to more cerebral aspects of why we want more people in college than my opponent seems to think that there should be.
For example, my opponent says that "Furthermore, those who choose not to go to university are not necessarily less intelligent, educated or well-informed than those who do go to university, as real-world experience often develops wisdom in a more beneficial way than theoretical education does." I absolutely, totally agree with this point. However, this entire claim is completely dependent on the word "necessarily." Of course people can educate themselves to a level equal to or even higher than that of college education. However, this is not by any means the norm, especially outside of isolated fields. If people normally educated themselves more than schooling did, there would be no schooling.
"If a graduate doesn't take a graduate job, then the "27000 cost of a university course is essentially wasted." Even if college had no career benefits (it does, this is hypothetical) it has benefits outside of careers. People who go to college are exposed to more viewpoints and people and ideas than are most other people, and are given the skills to think critically. Reasons such as these are why people are taught seemingly inapplicable subjects in school such as history and art and philosophy and literature: they make us better people. Going to school is not all about getting a job. It is a big part of it, yes, but not the whole thing. A citizen going to vote who has been educated on history and consequences will be able to make a better decision than someone who hasn't been. Someone who has discussed altruism in a classroom setting may be more charitable than others. Someone who has been educated in art could make someone's day by articulately comparing their visage to Nascita di Venere. Someone who has read The Catcher in the Rye may have the drive to reach out to an antisocial or depressed person and help them. Education helps us in the business world, certainly, but it does so, so much more for us. The Civil Rights Movement, anti-war movements, and other vehicles of social progression all have their roots on college campuses. Tax dollars pay for things that are much more ridiculous than this. We could raise taxes just a little and provide not only equal career opportunity for all, but make people to be better. They might not get this chance otherwise, due to the heavy financial burden that they would undertake in doing so. To quote the French philosopher Emmanuel Jaffelin, "Let us remember that in Greek, the word 'School' ('skhol') means neither client nor debt, but 'leisure.'"(1)
First I would like to clarify that, even though this debate is applicable to all countries, I am focusing on Britain since I am British; and furthermore this debate pertains to Britain particularly as there will be a general election next month and tuition fees are an oft-debated subject between opposing political parties.
Britain is also the birthplace of the university, with its institutions setting the mould for universities worldwide.
Finally, it is extremely difficult to obtain statistics that are representative of the world population, so I have to pick a country from which to draw statistics, despite one country not being representative of all other countries.
Therefore, I request that I am forgiven for using UK statistics.
Financial benefits / costs
My opponent cites the large amount of debt that is the result of university.
However, the fact remains that student debt allows anyone go to university no matter how poor. So the assertion that university fees make it inaccessible remains refuted.
Furthermore, a graduate is generally more likely to get a higher paying job than a non-graduate, so this would cancel out the debt acquired at university.
Finally, student debt is one of the most moderate forms of debt there is:
1. If you earn less than £16910, then you don't have to repay the debt (1)
2. You only pay 9% of what you earn (2)
3. If you don't pay it off within 25 years, then it's written off (3).
To summarise, student debt isn't some life-destroying, crippling financial burden - it is actually very manageable and will be likely to be completely offset by the salary increase from a graduate job.
There is very little actual risk involved; if you don't earn enough to repay it, then you don't have to. And if you can't pay it off after 25 years, then you don't have to.
But considering the personal financial benefits that university can give, a mild form of debt is a very generous form of payment for it.
My opponent doggedly insists that graduates would be willing to work in undesirable jobs, but the high level of graduate unemployment suggests otherwise (4).
Besides, when was the last time you saw a fresh-out-of-college graduate working in a low-paying job? I can't remember.
Pro makes a valid point regarding how graduates are more likely to be more educated than non-graduates.
But this is only theoretical education, not real-world, practical wisdom. Employers consistently say that experience is more valuable than theory. (5)
Moreover, a degree only provides education in a specific area. For example someone with a degree in ancient history will only be highly educated in ancient history. Therefore graduates would only be significantly valuable to the job areas that accord with their degree, which limits their options in the job market.
I agree with pretty much everything my opponent writes in his last paragraph, but people can study civil rights, philosophy, history, science etc.. in high school. One doesn't need to go to university to become educated in these matters.
Ultimately, my opponent's last argument is an argument for free schooling, not necessarily for free university.
I would like to thank my opponent for the debate, it is certainly an interesting subject with more aspects than I initially predicted. But overall, I maintain that my opponent has not given sufficient reason why the government ought to pay for university education instead of the beneficiaries themselves.
- 3/4 of U.K. students will not be able to pay off their student loan debts. (1)
- My opponent said that someone would typically end up paying about 27,000 pounds in student loans. However, this was under the old system, which was removed some time ago. Under the new system, the average is 44,035 pounds. (2)
- "While tuition at public universities in Japan is considerably less than American colleges and universities, tuition in the United Kingdom is more on par with that in the U.S."(3) This doesn't sound terrible until you realize that U.S. college students are now over a trillion dollars in debt. (4, 5) That's right. Tra-tra-tra-trillion, people. That's more student loan debt than the amount of money possessed by most *countries,* and the U.K. is charging rates similar to this in a *smaller economy.* Less than a fifth the size of the U.S.'s, in fact.(5, 6) Either the government needs to force universities to stop charging such ridiculously high sums of money for education that is given for free in most developed countries, or they need to pay the money for their decision to allow universities to keep prices that high. "'It is quite unfathomable for most Europeans that you would start your adult life tens of thousands of dollars in debt,' says Oberle, who researched higher education systems in countries such as the U.K., Hungary, Argentina and Turkmenistan for her book 'College Abroad.'"(3)
Thus, my opponent's repeated claims that student loans are affordable, even in the heavily socialized U.K., are rendered invalid. Now I move on to a broader focus.
My opponent insists, time and again, that college students will refuse to ever work low-paying jobs, when statistics clearly show that the number of college students working low-paying jobs has actually been increasing at an alarming rate. In the U.S. alone (I know what I said about using one country as a global representation, but my opponent and I seem to have come to an agreement on that XD) "the number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs is nearly 71 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest figures. As of 2012, 284,000 college graduates were working at or below the minimum wage, up from 167,000 in 2002..."(7)
My opponent makes a valid point regarding job experience vs college education, saying that employers often hire pepple who have job experience before they hire people with college degrees and no job experience. However, plenty of people with degrees have or have had jobs. Also, this preference for people with job experience is only present in certain fields. My opponent also points out that a degree only educates in a certain area. I would like to point out that people usually take more than one course in college, and that working at a single job gives a similarly narrow field of expertise.
My opponent says that my points in the last paragraph of my last entry are correct, except that they advocate for free-schooling in general and not necessarily college. However, this is not the case, as I specifically mentioned college campuses, putting special emphasis on them being the centers of major cultural shifts such as the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements.
A point that I would like to make is that the quality of life, as well as the happiness of the citizenry of countries wherein tertiary education is free or nearly free is higher than that of countries where it is expensive. People are more easily able to delegate their finances and not stress about the future when they don't have back-breaking student loans to pay off.
I would also like to again stress the fact that education is not only to prepare us for work; it is also to make us better people. Martin Luther King Jr. said that "the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."(8) We spend tax dollars on so much that is immoral and illogical today. We pay for drones that spy on and kill civilians and wars that benefit those who took the money from us in order to pay for them. These things are wrong, but we have a chance to get something right. We can pay just a bit more than we already are, even if it's only for the tuition, or even if it only lowers the coast, not removes it, and in exchange we'll get a brighter, more enlightened, more open-minded future. We don't even have to pay it, actually, as long as we're willing to tell those Harvardized schmucks that beating the little guy in the face with a baseball bat-sized pipe wrench and then emptying his pockets so that they can go pay a different little guy a nickel to shine their shoes is a total (insert nickname for Richard) move.
I would like to once again thank my opponent for this intriguing experience. Prior to the debate, I hadn't really seen any compelling arguments for his case; however, he has definitely brought up points for me to ponder further, and I am grateful for the experience and broadening of my perspective. I remain unwavering, though, in my assertion that college education, or at least the tuition or room and board, if not both, should be free, or else the entire coast should be dramatically reduced.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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