Who Wins in Education?

Everybody talks about the need for higher education but how do we pay for the ever-increasing costs of college and university education, and are students getting their money’s worth.

Costs of tuition, fees, room and board at public universities have doubled in the last twenty years, whereas middle-class wages have remained flat since the 1970s. Students are forced to take out loans to acquire a college education.

Colleges and universities are also being forced to take on massive debt to become more “market-oriented,” building the high-quality, expensive, living and dining amenities students say they want, excluding facilities that achieve excellence in education.

Unfortunately, graduation rates are falling, high costs are resulting in a decrease in enrollment numbers, some students drop out early, while others who graduate fail to earn enough in their first years of employment to repay their loans.

School administrators pay more attention to “profits” and “return-on-investment” than giving our students the education they need and deserve.

We need to refocus on education, not the popularity of our institutions. Students need to be freed from the burden of debt, scholarships and grants are preferable to higher levels of debt.

We must also distribute a far greater portion of our national wealth to help students get the education they need and deserve. Otherwise we further weaken our democracy and ruin the middle-class way of life that sustains it. When the banks win, students lose.

John G. Fike is an adjunct professor at the Eastern Michigan University Political Science Dept.

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