Not everything is a matter of business.
While the cost of educating students and providing them with a high-quality education is essential to take into account, at some point the inherent value we as a society place on the exposure to new, as well as established, ideas needs to take precedence over the strictly dollars-and-cents myopia that the current system of higher education seems to be blinded by.
In recent years, universities have been charging higher tuition rates as state governments have reduced the amount of funding provided to higher education, placing more of the financial burden of funding the cost of providing an education on students.
Though in Florida, the trend was bucked this year with additional funding provided to higher education. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education published Tuesday stated that Moody’s, the bond-rating agency that marks the financial stability of institutions, predicted a bleak outlook for higher education in 2014 as many universities reported a dip in incoming tuition as students and families are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for the rising costs of higher education.
Yet concurrently, it appears the only one profiting from the existing setup is the federal government, which rolled in a profit off student loans of more than $41 billion, more than all companies in the world other than Exxon Mobil and Apple, according to a Detroit Free Press article published Tuesday.
Long story short: Universities don’t have enough money, so they’re charging students more. Students don’t have enough money, so they’re borrowing from the government more. The government, which never seems to have enough money, is making money off students, yet not consistently reinvesting it in students or the higher education system.
The message this broken system is sending is that the commoditization of higher education and the view of it as a good — quickly becoming a luxury good — to be acquired is something that is becoming more of a reality.
But education is being viewed as an afterthought in a society that is quickly starting to look at it strictly as a job ticket —a job ticket that only some can now afford. With the emphasis on the elimination of inefficient programs, or programs that are perhaps not in high enough demand, the traditional views of education as a vehicle to some form of glorified enlightenment are quickly dissolving, not all for the worse.
While clearly, a world of beard-stroking ponderers may not be the most productive society, simply living in a world that looks as education as a cut-and-dry find-a-solution-to-this problem impedes future progress, for it’s likely many of these “inefficient” areas may lead to innovation and new ways of thinking across multiple disciplines.
While many of the traditional values associated with education may be largely irrelevant in today’s society, if the overall emphasis of its importance is lost in bean-counting calculations of a functional business model, we will soon turn into a society devoid of the ability to progress beyond the status quo.
Divya Kumar is a senior majoring in mass communications and