Free university education now for everyone! All education should be free, whether pre-school (kindergarten), primary education (elementary school), secondary education (high school), tertiary education (university, technical training) or life-long learning.
Education is regarded as a basic human right which is why all developed countries make basic primary and secondary education free (although Educational Apartheid in some countries determines differential access to good quality education depending upon parental wealth, race or home location).
Nevertheless the currently dominant neoliberal philosophy - that demands maximum freedom for the smart and otherwise advantaged to exploit natural and human resources for personal aggrandisement - means that most governments charge fees to (mostly young) students doing accredited university courses (e.g. science, engineering, medicine, arts, commerce, law etc) or technical and further education (TAFE) courses (e,g. electrician, building, plumbing, hospitality, hair dressing etc).
However there is another approach to economics that can be variously described as social humanism, socialism or the welfare state and which involves maximizing the happiness, dignity, and opportunity of all people, with the Scandinavian countries being good examples of relatively conservative countries applying this philosophy to achieve a good social safety net and free university education.
At the outset the neoliberals assert that universities are expensive institutions and that students should accordingly pay for the tuition that will enhance their future earning prospects. However a reductio ad absurdum here would be that all children should be heavily taxed from birth in direct proportion to the IQs , wealth and socio-economic status of their parents.
Further, all nations need to have a complement of expert scholars and scientists for variety of economic, health, national security and national prestige reasons - but one must ask why impoverished, circa 20 year old undergraduate students should have to pay for this expert complement that disproportionately and immediately benefits the mature adult population and the richer and older citizens in particular.
All education can and should be free. All university education can and should be free. All education can be free as empirically exampled by the 2 dozen or so countries from rich to poor that have made it so. All education should be free to help maximize the social humanist goal of maximizing the happiness, dignity and opportunity of all people and the society of which they are a part (Gideon Polya, “ Book Review: “Social Humanism. A New Metaphysics” by Brian Ellis - last chance to save Planet?”, Countercurrents, 19 August 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya190812.htm ; Brian Ellis, ”Social Humanism. A New Metaphysics”, Routledge , UK , 2012 ).
Many countries, both rich and poor, have made tertiary education free for their citizens (and in some cases also for non-citizens) , the list including (GDP per capita in US dollars in brackets; UN data, 2014-2015): Argentina ($12,645) , Barbados ($15,429), Brazil ($11,387), Chile ($14,528), China ($7,617), Cuba ($7,274), Czech Republic ($19,470), Denmark ($61,294), Ecuador ($6,346), Estonia ($20,122), Finland ($49,678), France ($42, 802), Germany ($47,966), Greece ($21,414), Iceland ($52,048), Libya ($6,602), Malta ($23,281), Mauritius ($9,945), Norway ($97,226), Scotland ($24,060), Slovenia ($23,954), Sweden ($58,856), Trinidad and Tobago ($20,452), Turkey ($9,126) and Uruguay ($15,574) but not the Anglosphere countries of Australia ($62,290), Canada ($50,169), Ireland ($53,648), New Zealand ($44,189), UK ($46,461) and the US ($54,306) (see “Free education”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_education and “List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita”, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29_per_capita ).
In addition, Nigeria ($3,203), university education is free for Science, Education & Technology students ("Buhari declares free university education for all Science, Education & Technology students”, Answers Africa: http://answersafrica.com/buhari-declares-free-university-education-for-science-education-technology-students.html ). Some further countries provide university education that is very cheap from a Western perspective, namely Austria ($44,118), Belgium ($40,278), India ($1,614), Italy ($30,426), Mexico ($8,981), Spain ($25,865), and Taiwan ($22,263) ( see Amy Gibbons, “The countries offering students free (or affordable) university education”, Independent, 5 December, 2016: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/study-abroad/free-university-education-courses-study-abroad-brexit-erasmus-students-germany-copenhagen-france-a7457576.html ). In some further countries free university education is available based on means or ability e.g. Canada ($43,206; means-based free places in Ontario) and Russia ( $9,243; competition-based free places).
Australian university fees were abolished by the reformist Whitlam Labor Government before it was removed in a CIA-backed Coup in 1975. Fees were re-introduced by the pro-US, neoliberal Hawke Labor Government but with a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) enabling students to repay their debt in small instalments when able to do so. Australian students presently have an average HECS debt of $15,200 which is repaid over an average of 8.3 years but the present ultraconservative Coalition Government (with the support of nearly all vice-chancellors) wants to deregulate fees and increase the interest rate on the HECS debt with the prospect of $100,000 degrees under the extreme right wing, pro-war, war criminal, pro-coal, pro-gas, climate criminal Liberal Party-National Party Coalition Government now led by the charming and articulate but nevertheless “lipstick on a pig” Malcolm Turnbull (see Gideon Polya, “Book Review: “Selling Students Short” By Richard Hil – Neoliberal Corruption Of Corporatised Australian Universities”, Countercurrents, 29 May, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290515.htm ). However scrupulously kept from public awareness is climate criminal Australia's damage-related Carbon Debt due to accumulated greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution that now totals $7.5 trillion, is increasing at $400 billion each year and which will inescapably have to be paid by young Australians and future generations, with the Carbon Debt for under-30 year old Australians increasing at $40,000 each year (by way of comparison the World has a Carbon Debt of $360 trillion that is increasing at $13 trillion per year; see “Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/ ).
The rich Anglosphere countries that do not have free university education are imposing a huge education debt on their young citizens while permitting massive tax avoidance by national individuals, national corporations and multinational corporations. Further Anglosphere countries, specifically the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia , are notable for having an increasing One Percenter and Ten Percenter share of annual national income. As revealed by Professor Thomas Piketty in his book “Capital in the Twenty First Century”, the share in total income of the top 1% in France, Germany, Sweden and Japan declined from about 20% in 1910 to about 8% in 1950 and thence remained low (Figure 9.3, p317). In contrast, in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia a similar decline occurred from about 20% in 1910 to 6-9% in 1970 but after 1980 the One Percenter share of total income variously increased to 10-18%. A similar pattern obtains with the top 10% in these countries, a phenomenon that Piketty describes as “the rise of the supermanager: an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon” (Figures 9.2-9.8, pp315-324) (see Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” , Harvard University Press, 2014; Gideon Polya, “4 % annual Global Wealth Tax to stop the 17 Million deaths annually”, Countercurrents, 27 June, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya270614.htm ; Gideon Polya, “Key Book Review: “Capital In The Twenty-First Century” By Thomas Piketty”, Countercurrents, 1 July, 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya010714.htm ).
It gets worse. The rich Anglosphere countries that refuse to provide free university education for their young citizens are also among the world’s worst greenhouse gas (GHG) polluters and follow the Australian example of imposing a huge, inescapable and ever-increasing Carbon Debt on their young. Thus the annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution for all countries (tonnes CO2-e per person per year; the world average being 63.80 billion tonnes CO2-e / 7.137 billion people in 2013 = 8.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year) is as follows New Zealand (53.2), Australia (52.9; 116 if including its huge GHG-generating exports), Canada (50.1),), Ireland (41.4), United States (41.0), and the UK (21.5) (Gideon Polya, “Revised Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution For All Countries – What Is Your Country Doing?”, Countercurrents, 6 January, 2016: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya060116.htm ). Scotland is a notable exception – it has abolished university fees and is committed to 100% renewable energy by 2020 (see “100% renewable energy by 2020”: https://sites.google.com/site/100renewableenergyby2020/ ; “Scotland aims for 100% renewable energy by 2020”, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 October 2012: http://www.smh.com.au/business/carbon-economy/scotland-aims-for-100-renewable-energy-by-2020-20121031-28jbv.html ).
Here are 3 examples of how the present corporatized university system could rapidly transit from the present dishonest rip-off to much free-er tertiary education:
(1). All those running lecture-based courses in state-subsidized universities should place lectures notes, a book/chapter/page-based syllabus, sample answers to model exam questions and other teaching materials on the web for free access for all, and provide minimum cost accrediting examinations that anyone can sit for free or for a modest, real cost-based fee.
(2). Current on-campus undergraduate education can be provided at 10% of the current cost using part-time academic teaching staff (e.g from other institutions, industry or from early retirement).
(3), Current on-campus undergraduate education can be provided at 1% of the current cost simply through provision by experts from public or private universities of minimum-cost, accrediting examination of student understanding of the top quality courses (Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs) put on the web for free by top universities like 157-Nobel-Laureate Harvard and 85-Nobel-Laureate Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Of course if existing institutions won't act decently as suggested above then collectives of currently employed academics, retired academics, scholars, scientists and other experts(e.g in Australia, an Australian Free University or Free University of Australia) should should simply place lectures notes, a book/chapter/page-based syllabus, sample answers to model exam questions and other teaching materials on the web for free access for all, and provide minimum cost accrediting examinations that anyone can sit for free or for a modest, real cost-based fee.
The progressive corporatizing of Western universities has meant that they are now dominated by ruthless academic administrators who can be seen as parasitic and grossly over-paid refugees from scholarship who do the bidding of dishonest, greedy, pro-One Percenter, neoliberal governments in perverting scholarly institutions, maltreating scholars , deceiving the public and ripping off students.
The gross deception of students, parents and society over the need for university fees is a good illustration of Polya’s 3 Laws that mirror the 3 Laws of Thermodynamics of science and are (1) Price minus COP (Cost of Production) equals profit; (2) Deception about COP strives to a maximum; and (3) No work, price or profit on a dead planet. These fundamental laws also help expose the resolute failure of neoliberal capitalism in relation to Carbon Debt, wealth inequality, massive tax evasion by multinational corporations, and horrendous avoidable deaths from poverty and pollution culminating in general ecocide, speciescide, climate genocide, omnicide and terracide (see Gideon Polya. “Polya's 3 Laws Of Economics Expose Deadly, Dishonest And Terminal Neoliberal Capitalism”, Countercurrents, 17 October, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya171015.htm ; “Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed ; “Nuclear weapons ban , end poverty & reverse climate change”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/nuclear-weapons-ban ; "Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/too-late-to-avoid-global-warming ; “Stop state terrorism” : https://sites.google.com/site/stopstateterrorism/ ).
"Free university education" is actually a double entendre - we must implement free university education and in so doing free universities from the clutches of corporatist university administrators and anti-science, anti-scholarship, spin-driven and anti-truth neoliberal governments.
This website is a numerically and alphabetically-organized compendium of facts and opinions about good quality and free university education.