The institution of higher education is under attack around the world. With an increasingly capitalist world tightening its grip, the value of education is going down.
Most often, it is linked to the financial viability of this option. Researchers argue that higher education has no role in adding to the economic value of a person. This is precisely why it should be done away with.
However, there are serious flaws in such an approach. Let’s explore these.
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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE EMPHASIS ON ECONOMIC ANGLE OF UNIVERSITY EDUCATION?
A report by right-wing think tank Policy change argues that “universities have lost the trust of the nation”. Additionally, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that “One in five students would be financially better off if they skipped higher education”.
Firstly, it ignores the fact that four-fifths of the population are still financially better off with a university education. However, secondly and on a more important level, this attack on education is unfounded.
University education is a public good that is being attacked and without reason. The government cannot trample upon it by arguing that it is not adding anything to the economy. It is not supposed to. That’s not its function in society. Instead, it is supposed to instil a rational capacity in students.
When in University, a student is at the forefront of democracy. As they encounter new ideas, they also get more acquainted to ask questions. This is precisely the reason why Universities become the hotbed of political change around the world.
That’s the fear that still strikes the heart of a growing crop of right-wing fascist leaders around the world. Taking the Indian case, its premiere public university Jawaharlal Nehru University has been under constant attack by the right-wing nationalist government of Narendra Modi-led Bhartiya Janta Party.
Even within the public universities, there has been a more pronounced attack on the arts and humanities courses. The reason being given again is the low market value associated with these outdated courses. However, the contribution that these courses have on creating a good citizen are conveniently ignored in this regard.
The time has come for the citizens to protest for their right to gaining a good university education that is highly beneficial.