EDUCATION FORMS THE BEDROCK of society's development. Strong correlations exist between education and everything from global health to economic prosperity to gender equality. The more investment in human capital, the greater leaps a society can make.
Protests erupted in Chile, Turkey, Britain and Québec in 2011 and 2012 over rising tuition and the accessibility and quality of post-secondary education. These uprisings also pointed to a deep discontent with higher education’s slide towards privatization.
A key demand from Québec’s students, for example, was that the provincial Liberals redirect funding for research activities that benefit private enterprise towards free tuition and better teaching instead. The protests, which pre-empted tuition hikes and eventually toppled the government, called for a restructuring of finances rather than an increase in funding, thereby reducing student debt and making education more of a social priority.
While tuition costs certainly affect potential enrolment and postgraduation options, factors such as socio-political circumstance, private sector influence and government reforms must also be considered. Practicality plays a role, too. A study released earlier this year showed that British graduates are 10 per cent more likely to work in a low-skilled job than they were a decade ago.
How does the cost of tuition impact the quality of education and employment options for students? Well, the answer is at least as complicated as third-year particle physics.