Free College For All?
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Politics and Activism

Free College For All?

Free higher education — how and why?

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Free College For All?
Aastha Uprety

I recently read an article about the introduction of a new program at the University of Cambridge. The new “Doctor of Business Degree” would be one of the most expensive degrees in the world and cost a grand total of $332,000. The program would be small and selective — it seems to be intended for those already leading in the business world.

This, of course, got me thinking about the costs of education. When I think of education, I imagine what should be a tool for providing people with the knowledge and skills necessary to earn a living and, if it’s particularly effective, move forward in the journey to self-actualization. Cambridge’s new Doctor of Business program does not seem revolutionary in that manner — it seems like a way for wealthy people to learn how to be more wealthy, and maybe share knowledge through research with other elite peers.

Bernie Sanders wants college to be free. While the idea of free higher education is not new, Sanders' platform has certainly brought the discussion into the spotlight. The economic and political feasibility of his proposal has been debated endlessly, as well as the potential effects.

Sanders' plan to fund free college would be primarily based in raising taxes, especially on high income earners, Wall Street firms and hedge funds. There is controversy on how much money could actually be raised from these taxes, and how politically realistic it would be, considering the amount of tax evasion and corporate loopholes that already exists.

Some argue that universities could become underfunded if left dependent solely on public money, and others point out that the countries with the most educated work forces don't necessarily offer tuition-free higher education.

Furthermore, the push for free college seems like a hollow effort if nothing is done regarding K-12 education. While some students graduate high school and are then faced with the financial difficulty of paying for college, many do not even make it to that point. Dropout rates are high, and the overall quality of education in elementary, middle and high schools differs drastically based on where you are.

Classic examples of inequality in the school system can be seen through the fact that local property taxes fund schools and the correlation between socioeconomic class and SAT scores. When we are faced with realities like these, it seems only reasonable to fix these problems and then go on to addressing the costs of higher education.

My support for free higher education comes from the idea that education is a universal human right. Tuition fees are through the roof at most major institutions in the U.S, and this is most importantly a barrier to educational access. Information should be free and accessible to everybody, not just those who can afford it. Academic literature shouldn't be locked up in databases that someone must pay to access, and the opportunity to learn marketable skills should be available to everybody — especially as college degrees become more and more necessary to get jobs.

Education is widely regarded as the key to better communities and society. How can the most disadvantaged members of a society have a voice if they are not able to be educated? A more just world would be attainable if K-12 and higher education were more accessible.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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