A college education is very important for a good quality of life. So should colleges be free or not?
While the tuition fees of colleges and universities in Canada are affordable compared to other countries, it has been increasing steadily every year and setting new records. This has led to more students taking up student loans to pursue higher education and thus ending up in debt. According to the Canadian Student Federation, the average debt of a Canadian university graduate is around 27,000 CAD. If the tuition fees of a domestic student are high, then the tuition fees of international students are higher.
Moreover, a university education does not guarantee a well-paying job now as it used to earlier. It just provides an entry point to the job market like a high school diploma.
So, should the government step up and make colleges free for everyone? In this article, we will look at both sides of the coin to gain a better understanding of the subject and to arrive at our own respective conclusions.
Reasons Why Colleges Should Be Free
Following are some solid reasons why colleges should be made free:
No More Student Debt
As mentioned earlier, students are taking an exorbitant amount of loans to pay their college or university tuition fees. This leads to them being in debt. Which then proves to be a huge hindrance in their achieving a better quality of life as they have to keep paying back the loan for years. If the colleges are made free, then students won’t end up in debt. Moreover, the fear of debt might be a huge factor that keeps students away from colleges. Who would want to carry that kind of burden for a major part of their life?
Improved Quality of Life
More people would be able to access college education if it were made free. When more people are educated, they are able to solve problems more easily as a society. This would lead to the progress of society and enable the people to lead a better quality of life.
Moreover, more educated people mean more availability of employees for high-skilled jobs. When more people join the workforce, it might help lessen the wealth gap between the lower, middle and upper classes.
Furthermore, educated people will be able to understand the history of their society and better engage in politics which would improve their country.
Opportunity to Try Out Different Things
When there is no financial burden of college fees, students will be able to try out different courses to figure out what works for them or what field they are interested in. This would be highly beneficial as they won’t have to be stuck doing a major that they have no interest in.
Most students graduate with a huge amount of student debt. As a result, they have to keep paying back the loan with interest for quite a long time. And the debt keeps on growing with interest. This would have a negative effect on consumer spending and the economy.
When students graduate without being burdened with debt, consumer spending increases which in turn creates more demand. This also means there are more employment opportunities. This further boosts the economy.
When students have no debt to worry about, they will be able to focus on their studies. Otherwise, they will be stressed thinking about repaying their debts. This stress might hinder them from focusing on their studies.
Many bright students are unable to attend college for not being able to afford the tuition fees. Therefore, it can be said that many students from low-income families are unable to pursue higher education. If colleges are free, everyone will be able to get a quality college education and not miss out on opportunities in life.
Reasons Why Colleges Should Not Be Free
Here are a few reasons why providing free college education might not be a good idea after all:
A huge portion of wealth is concentrated among the 1% of society. A free college education would mean that they would also be able to avail free education. Since they have a better headstart in terms of basic education, this will lead to a huge earnings gap and hence, increase inequality.
Decrease in Quality of Education
Some argue that making college education free would negatively affect its quality and bring down its value. It might lead to a cut in spending on research and development to be able to accommodate the increasing number of students. This would lead to a decrease in the quality of education doled out by colleges.’
Doesn’t Ensure a Well-Educated Workforce
While tuition-free college education might lessen the financial burden and stress of students, it might compromise the quality of education. When the quality of education is compromised, we cannot say that free colleges will be able to produce a well-educated workforce.
No Relation to Economic Growth
As mentioned earlier, making colleges free might result in a decrease in the quality of education, which means that the workforce won’t be as skilled as it is now. If the workforce isn’t skilled, then the demand for highly skilled workers might not be met. Moreover, the government would have to heavily subsidize education to make colleges free. If the spending is not done properly, the chances of failure are high.
Decrease in Motivation to Study
When something is free, people tend to value it less. So when college education is made free, students might not give it much importance. Hence, they might not work as hard as a student who had to pay quite a huge sum of tuition fees. The lack of financial burden might make students more relaxed, while some kind of financial burden might be a motivating factor to study hard.
Now that we have checked out both perspectives on the subject of making college education free, what do you think? Should colleges be free or not?
Cite one major disadvantage of making colleges free.
A major disadvantage of making colleges free is that it would decrease the quality of education. More and more students will join colleges if they are made free. And to accommodate the growing number of students, the institutions might have to cut down their spending on research and accommodation. This might lead to a decline in the quality of education. Moreover, colleges will have to do away with small size classrooms and only include big classes with a huge number of students in order to accommodate everyone. This means the teachers won’t be able to pay attention to every student. This would also affect the quality of education.
Will providing free college education help students focus on their studies?
Nowadays, a large number of students are burdened with student loans due to the exorbitant amount of tuition fees charged by colleges. This leads to stress, and students are always worried about how they’ll repay their debt. But if college education is made free, they won’t have to worry about repaying their debt and focus on their studies. But another downside of this is that making colleges tuition-free and the lack of debt doesn’t mean that students will pay more attention to their studies. It is possible that they might not value something that’s available for free and hence not work as hard as they would if they had to pay for it. Even so, we can’t generalize and conclude that every student will act the same way.