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Free Public Higher Education for Everyone

Free Public Higher Education for Everyone


Education is one of the essential features of the society and the basis for a civilized community. It is difficult to deny the benefit of education to the society as it allows people to express their unique ideas. Moreover, these ideas become indicators of progress and assure the continuity of generations in a secure world. Apparently, the basic education is free for the majority of people, but it has the limit as university education requires payment. Therefore, there is a social problem whether the government and our fellow citizens holding universities and colleges restrict the population from the benefits of knowledge. The basic reason for this assumption is that not all social groups have enough money to allow their children obtain higher education. Although there are individuals who argue that higher education requires payment, this paper emphasizes that there should be no restriction on people’s zeal for knowledge. When discussing this issue, the study uses various examples that assure that higher education should be tuition-free for everyone. Moreover, this paper is addressed to the heads of Columbia University and the University of Chicago, since these educational institutions have enormous tuition fees. In case the administration considers the issue and implements the proposed policies, our citizens would have more opportunities for self-realization. Consequently, individual development of citizens would foster economic and scientific progress, thus making the country prosper. Therefore, free higher education can be provided by means of introducing students’ aid from the state government and the establishment of contracts with future students’ employers paying for education.

Current Situation in the Sphere of Higher Education

First, in order to propose an appropriate policy, there is a need to describe the situation in the sphere of higher education in the US. Moreover, this section addresses the involved stakeholders as well as their claims. Thus, according to a presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, one of the gravest issues in the current society is student debts (Walters). For instance, the politician argues that that there is “the nation’s $1.3tn student debt crisis” and characterizes high interest rates on student loans as “absurd” (Walters). This is a paradox situation, which can be regarded as an attempt of the bank system and creditors to capture future specialists in a trap of enormous financial liability. The example of this situation is the Circle family, which took a loan of $88,000 for education and is unable to repay. The mother of the family claims, “My savings are gone. I’m going on 63 years old and I’m afraid I’m going to have to work the rest of my life” (Woodruff). It is evident that the sphere of higher education becomes not a matter of science but a matter of business. Moreover, a tense financial situation deteriorates the quality of students’ lives, because they have to combine several jobs and studies. As a result, the quality of studying and academic performance tends to suffer in favor of financial aims of paying the tuition fee. Therefore, this paper addresses to the heads of Columbia University and the University of Chicago as one of the leaders among universities with high tuition fee. Thus, these universities are reported to have tuition fees of $63,440 and $62,458 respectively (Goldman), which is an enormous sum of money for a young person. Such tuition fees go along with the general negative tendency for the increase of costs of food and housing for students. For instance, throughout a 36-year period, the costs of student’s food and accommodation increased by 257% and 370% respectively (Goldman). Moreover, scholars indicate that the problem of student loans remains after their graduation. The major cause of it is that it becomes more and more difficult for university graduates to find a job which could cover the debt. For instance, in 2009, it was estimated that approximately two million graduates failed to find jobs (Breneman). This issue has got even more serious due to the fact that finding an appropriate job is difficult even for some postgraduates and doctoral graduates. Consequently, the paper suggests that the increase in tuition fees cannot be justified by economic difficulties. Therefore, the sphere of higher education transforms into a business, which “poses risk to nation’s future economic growth” (Puzzanghera). For instance, both of the addressed universities are private, which indicates that they have individual tuition programs and policies, which may significantly differ from those approved by the government. As a result, students and their parents require governmental assistance, which would regulate the norms and financial limits for universities regarding tuition fees.

Furthermore, it is evident that the created situation in the sphere of higher education involves numerous stakeholders. Among them are students and their parents, tutors, administration of the universities as well as governmental agencies, politicians and financial institutions. Thus, students and their parents are interested in the introduction of adequate policies regulating the sphere of higher education. Moreover, an ideal situation for the society would be assurance in the possibility for obtaining a totally free university education. At the same time, the representatives of the financial system and universities might struggle to implements such policies because of individual reasons. Thus, in case universities require materials and scientific base, which is expensive, banks and loan givers treat this issue as a direct financial profit achieved through students’ loans. Therefore, there is a need for influencing the representatives of local and state governments addressing the discussed problem. The reason for this is that politicians would provide and assure a comprehensive program addressing the issue of free university tuition. One of the most interested politicians to address might be Bernie Sanders, since he leads the movement of assuring free university education throughout the country (Walters). This paper suggests that there are numerous ways of assuring free higher education (Sanders). It attempts analyzing various scientific approaches and social policies allowing the stakeholders feeling comfortable when actualizing the proposed measures.

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Recommended Plan of Action, Reasons for Consideration, and Estimated Results

The paper also proposes a plan of action required for the implementation at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. The need for its validation is assured by the policy of the US regarding the sphere of higher education. Thus, President Obama indicated that, “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford” (Price, Bui, & Derong). At the same time, the universities argue that, “they have to rely increasingly on large lecture classes and inexpensive, untenured faculty in order to remain afloat” (Samuels). Consequently, due to inflation and the tendency towards compensating financial insufficiency by the increase of tuition fees, the universities may face the threat of opposite reaction. Such reaction may be massive refusal from obtaining a university degree caused by fears of unemployment and post-graduation student debt. At the same time, students’ relief from fees allows them to devote their time to studies and a future job instead of rushing from one part-time work to another. Therefore, educational institutions should consider the proposed policies now instead of observing the first indicators of these predictions.

Among the elements of the proposed policy, the creation of a comprehensive list of initiatives involving the addressed stakeholders is suggested. Thus, the policy requires the involved universities to introduce fee compensation and financial support policies. The vivid example of such policy is the one practiced at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which supports the vast majority of its undergraduate students. Its authorities claim that 90% of their undergraduates receive financial aid. Moreover, this aid takes a variety of forms ranging from grants and scholarships to student loans and work opportunities (“Financial Aid at MIT”). At the same time, one presumes that student loans should be substituted with the governmental aid. The aim of this measure is to make a student independent in terms of the financial aspect. This issue is critical, because it allows a student to devote significantly more time to self-realization, studies, and favorite job instead of searching part-time student jobs. At the same time, some part of the financial burden regarding the universities’ financial aid would be supported by the governmental policies and financial assistance. Likewise, there is a need for implementing local, state, and federal policies influencing private universities towards introducing a comprehensive set of financial aid for students. At the same time, it is suggested that the power of such policies is not in obligation or administrative pressure but in compensations and financial assistance. For instance, a university may receive a federal grant compensating the tuition fees of the 10% of its students if they make sufficient scientific contributions in any area. The secondary aim of this initiative is to raise the level of education at such institutions due to the doubts of their efficacy. For instance, scholars indicate that the US spends an enormous amount of money on education “in an incredibly inefficient way” (Nisen). Consequently, if the authorities of Columbia University and the University of Chicago accept these policies, they will enter the system of compensatory regulations from the state. This means that their fees might be divided by two, since they would be supported by the government. At the same time, students who show significant academic progress become free from any fees, which allow continuous decreasing of fees at universities. Likewise, the second stage of this policy is a complete refusal from tuition fees due to the fact that the universities are obliged to establish partnerships with the future students’ employers. Apparently, one of the universities, which uses such fixed-term contracts, is the University of York in the UK (“Collective Agreement between the University of York and York UCU for the Management of Staff on Fixed-term Contracts”). In this case, any company may pay for the student, thus allowing him or her to obtain education and become a qualified specialist and a future member of the company.

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Therefore, the proposed policy removes the burden of student fees and assures creation of efficient workforce. Thus, its estimated results are a gradual shift of the addressed universities towards tuition-free education and peculiar accent on students’ academic success. Likewise, students who are free form financial pressures would devote their time to studies and become prospective specialists. Moreover, contracts with certain companies would assure financial support of tuition-free universities and allow their students obtain perspective jobs.

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Summarizing the main points of the paper, it should be concluded that it proposes a relevant policy that allows removing tuition fees at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. Apparently, these high educational institutions have one of the highest tuition fees, which restrict numerous citizens from obtaining desired qualification. Since this fact differs from the President’s claim that high education should be free, this paper proposes a valid policy transferring the universities into tuition-free. Such effect should be reached in two stages, where the first one is assuring an appropriate universities’ student aid strategy. This strategy should be based on the system of state compensations for academic success of the students, thus reducing the sum of the fees. The second stage proposes establishing contracts with employers, who are interested in prospective graduate specialists. In this case, various companies completely compensate the sum of a student’s fee preparing one for becoming a member of their staff. Consequently, the implementation of the proposed policy assures gradual transition of Columbia University and the University of Chicago into tuition-free higher education institutions. Furthermore, the paper suggests that the experience of these universities would be adapted in various higher education institutions throughout the country validating the thesis proclaimed by the President.