[iDC] The Aims of Education
simon at littlepig.org.uk
Fri Sep 9 08:22:06 UTC 2011
The price of education is not stable in the USA and here in the UK it is rising radically. The UK government's decision to withdraw all tax payer funded support for public Higher Education teaching costs means that the fee students pay is rising from £3000 to an average of £8500 (in some institutions £9000) per year. That is an increase in cost to the student and an increase in income to the institutions (the unit value of the student is increasing by around 20%). In Scotland, where education policy is a devolved matter, University remains free for Scottish and EU students. However, due to a legal anomaly, Scot's institutions can charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students up to £9000/year as well. Scottish degrees are four years whilst English are three. My own institution (Edinburgh) announced last week it will charge English students £36,000 for a basic degree, making it by far the most expensive choice for an English candidate, some 20-25% more expensive than Cambridge or Oxford (Scotland's second ranked institution, St Andrews, is charging £27,000 for the same degree). We will see how long the state of affairs can be sustained (political, legal or economic circumstances could cause further change in any direction) but these are eye watering increases in both costs to the student and income to the provider.
This is not about a rise in costs but a realignment of the relationship between tax payers and the state. It is an ideologically driven change, where a government thinks education is neither a public good or a right but a service to be purchased by a consumer. If they can offload the costs of HE then they can put resources into reducing the national debt, which is their stated current priority. We are protected from this in Scotland (politically) but, as Edinburgh's decision on fees shows, there are nevertheless extremely negative consequences. Nearly 50% of Edinburgh's 30,000 students are from south of the border. We will see what happens to the number post-2012, but my feeling is that the numbers will be sustained as the University is way over-subscribed. The effect this will have on the culture of the institution will be profound.
On 8 Sep 2011, at 21:05, Anya Kamenetz wrote:
> >>Costs and prices are both rising. My comments referred to the reasons costs are rising. Jane Wellman of the Delta Cost Project has done the most detailed work as to why.
> >>the price of higher ed is actually pretty constant compared to other things that use secure 1st world labor. It got more expensive relative to things that became much, much cheaper because of lower labor costs and or substitution of tech for labor power.
> Actually the price of higher ed has risen even relative to the price of health care, which is the closest related example of a service provided by secure first world labor. And yes, my whole point is that it is more expensive relative to other things people choose to spend their money on, and that this makes it both more commodified and less desirable.
> As for the factors you mentioned: labor costs have been lowered in higher ed with the advent of adjuncts, but the savings have gone to the bottom line, not the student.
> And the substitution of technology for labor power is one of the things that has been delayed but is happening and will happen in higher education because many people would prefer to pay less for a similar service.
> The assertion that higher education is a "good investment for most degrees most of the time" varies by course of study, the quality and the cost of one's degree. It has been so in the past but may not continue to be so in the future. Whenever this point is raised I also feel compelled to mention that there are 41 million people in this country with a bachelor's degree, and 44 million people with some college and no degree. Most onetime college students have realized little to no return.
> On Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 2:42 PM, Philipp Schmidt <philipp at p2pu.org> wrote:
> On 8 September 2011 13:50, Ken Wark <warkk at newschool.edu> wrote:
> > Anya: I'd want to be a bit more cautious about cost-of-education arguments.
> > Firstly, pricing in American higher ed is all about discounts. The gap between sticker price and discount has been getting wider, so sticker price isn't all that helpful as a measure.
> > In the second place, the price of higher ed is actually pretty constant compared to other things that use secure 1st world labor. It got more expensive relative to things that became much, much cheaper because of lower labor costs and or substitution of tech for labor power.
> > In the third place, it is mostly still a good long term investment. Things like culinary school are in some cases not a good investment, but for most degrees most of the time, it pays off.
> Could you share some reliable data supporting the second and third claim?
> Most people argue the opposite -> price rising much faster than other
> goods/services, and long term benefits at best questionable.
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Simon Biggs | simon at littlepig.org.uk | www.littlepig.org.uk
s.biggs at ed.ac.uk | Edinburgh College of Art | University of Edinburgh
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