Australians love higher education… so long as someone else pays for it.
Students believe a well-educated workforce is vital to our country’s future and the community should pay for it. And they’re right.
The government argues university is a first class ticket to success, the kind of investment individuals should make for themselves. That’s true, too.
Some students see tertiary education purely as an opportunity for personal gain; they’re after that ticket to success… while some study in order to serve their communities better; no-one ever made the big bucks from a degree in teaching, nursing or social justice.
Most degrees are probably somewhere in the middle, a mix of private advancement and public benefit.
So why not give the most to those who give back the most?
Let’s educate our most selfless professionals for free; it’s the least we can do for people who do so much for us. Let’s ask those seeking education for purely personal ambitions to pay for their own studies; after all, it’s a smart investment. And let’s provide loans for those who will one day enjoy a lucrative career and add real value to our communities; their education is a joint venture we should all invest in.
Education benefits the individual AND the nation; it’s just a matter of degrees. But the constant politicisation of higher education makes enemies of those who should be co-venturers in an investment that benefits everyone.
By squabbling over who pays we lose sight of the greatest cost of all: the price we pay for an uneducated, undeveloped population.