Should education be free?

Posted on May 7, 2014

Q&A on Sunday night hosted the current Austalian Government education minister Christopher Pyne as one of the panel participants.

When the conversation was directed towards the issue of the government’s plan for the deregulation of university fees by an audience member, a group of university students unfurled a banner and started chanting catchy slogans about their views on the governments policies.

Here’s a quick clip of the event:

The point that was ogirinally made by the young lady asking the question was that fee deregulation will lead to increased fee’s meaning that education becomes the realm of those who can afford it, not just those who really want it.

This raises an interesting question: Should education be free?

Should knowledge and information be provided to anyone who wants it, free of charge?

This is a heated debate with many good points on both sides of the equation, but there is one key point that seems to be missed:

Education is already free.

There’s this little thing called the ‘internet’ (you might have heard of it) that contains almost the entirety of human knowledge and can be accessed on a device small enough to fit in your pocket from almost anywhere in Australia.

You want free education? There it is. Almost the entirety of human knowledge. Do you have any idea how much that is? There is no way possible you could get through all the information and education that’s available in 1000 lifetimes.

You want free education: Get online, read, ask a question, talk to people, engage in debates, and LEARN.

It’s all there, sitting, waiting for you to start.

Not structured enough for you? You can access almost all of MIT’s complete catalogue of course material for free right here.

Kahn Academy has the most unbelievable range of courses and training programs available to start, right now, for free.

Want to learn another language? Get FREE language tuition at DuoLingo.com

That’s not enough? Here’s a list of 35 other websites (as well as two mentioned here) where you can learn just about everything else you’d ever want to know: 37 of the best websites to learn something new

Information is everywhere, education is everywhere.

The thing that isn’t free are qualifications.

You can get your education for free, but if you want a large piece of cardboard with your name and an official university stamp on it, it’s going to cost you money.

Why? Because it costs money to provide that.

It costs money to build the classrooms you sit in, it costs money to pay the teachers and tutors who’re education you, it costs money to pay for the labs you work in, it even costs money to print those nice certificates you like so much.

If you want to use something that costs money, pay for it. You wouldn’t let someone sleep in your house for free for 7 months of the year whilst you coached them on… demanding things for free… so why should qualifications be any different?

Education is free, qualifications are not.

If you want to learn, learn. If you want something that costs money, pay for it.


7 Replies to "Should education be free?"

  • Jan
    May 8, 2014 (12:05 pm)
    Reply

    Yeah I agree on that. When you go through High School or University and graduate you receive a piece of paper that says, yeah this dude or this girl probably knows something about whatever it is she just studied. That’s it.

    But the difficulty I see in not choosing to pay fees and getting this paper is that so many people are relying on this System. So many people choose this system, because it’s easy to follow all these predetermined steps that will eventually get them somewhere where they know they can do this, this and this. If I can’t show them that I studied at whatever acknowledged university, are they going to wanna hire me over someone that actually has that degree? Most unlikely.

    Yes it’s possible to get free education. You can learn about whatever your passionate about. But I still think that the factor “money” is what keeps most people from choosing that path. What’s your opinion on that? How and why should one go down this path of educating himself over the internet when there is a much higher chance of getting hired when you own one of them crappy papers?

  • Caio
    May 8, 2014 (12:15 pm)
    Reply

    I am just starting to realize that, I was using this as an excuse for not learning ’til a few weeks ago: “Oh, I wanna learn chemistry…gonna wait ’til next year so I can start in college,’cause they can guide me through it”. What supported the excuse was that in college/university you have a structured schedule for studying, you know what you need to learn first to form the base for other subjects, but this wasn’t even a big of an issue, the truth is that: I’m lazy and want someone guiding me and teaching me what I have to do. (I say “I am” ’cause I still haven’t overcome this procrastination, but am working on it by dividing the big task in small chunks so I don’t feel overwhelmed, but I digress…)

    And I recently knew about this MIT material and other also, I found it to be amazing!! I am currently taking two courses in Coursera (www.coursera.org), and there are some many others. I’m gonna leave the link here for some interested reader to access: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/take-college-and-university-courses-online-completely-free (This link was shared by the group: “I fucking love science” on facebook (which I began to follow by seeing a post of them in your page hehe)

    Well, that’s it.

    No excuses!

  • Andrew
    May 18, 2014 (5:38 am)
    Reply

    With 3 degrees under my belt the main thing I know is that I don’t really know anything. My degrees just act as a signal to people that I know about certain topics a bit more than most folks. What I can say is that the things I’ve learned because of the internet have time-warped my growth by cutting off dozens of years from the learning curve by being able to find mentors/teachers/coaches who’ve already gone through what I’m going through and as a result helped catapult me through the trials and tribulations.

    This information would never be discovered through my social network before the internet.

    The internet is the tool responsible for me training with a shaman in the rain forest, climbing a mountain in the dead of winter in my shorts, learning life coaching skills ftom a vedanistic badass, and setting my goals of going into outer space and buying an island and building an earth ship.

    However, it seems mighty important to teach people how to use tge internet so thet aren’t just stuck looking at viral content all dat and being a victim and circle jerking in negative web circles.

    • Mario
      May 18, 2014 (10:36 am)
      Reply

      Hello Andrew,

      I really dont know what you are into but the sentence where you talk about yourself getting training with a shaman got me interested writing you. I hope you read this. I will keep it short.

      In 3 Months I will get training for a full month in the jungle of probaly noway between fjörds and mountains. Just like the poster above you “caio” I realised that I use the remaining time I have until then to do nothing because I think that the personal training with these folks will gona be more supporting rather then doing something myself.
      Now that I let my pants down I would like to hear/ read from you how this thing with the shaman went. I am searching for a “master” that lives in the forest and is deeply coneccted to his sourroundings and things like that. People here in town dont get to know such people and often such people dont even have internet acces. Do you have some advice for me?

      • Andrew
        May 21, 2014 (5:07 am)
        Reply

        Mario,
        You finally let your pants down, huh? It’s about time you joined in on this site’s no-pants party!

        That sounds like a fantastic adventure in the fjords and mountains. I’m highly jealous.

        I trained in the mountains with a guy named Wim Hof who has incredible body control and he teaches you how to connect with your inner nature through breathing techniques and cold exposure. A friend told me about him and then I sent him an email and then signed up for a workshop in the mountains in Poland.
        The shaman was a priest in the rain forest in Costa Rica. He had a shoddy website and a facebook page which looked like he wasn’t very good with technology and I communicated him that way until I got a feel that he wasn’t just going to kill me, rape me and sacrifice my body.

        So yeah usually I’ll read an article online or watch a video on YouTube, do some research on the topic and then reach out to people who have skills that I’d like to learn.

        As for your upcoming experience, I’d recommend keeping a journal about your experience with many details. Even though it’s a great experience there’s only so much you can pay attention to and most of it will be forgotten unless you tell the story a lot. If you’re into taking pictures make sure you bring extra batteries and a waterproof bag for your electronics.

        Unless you’re trip is supposed yo be a relaxing vacation, prepare for it and b proactive in order to get the most out of your experience. Instead of killing three months of time, research exactly what you want to find out about or what makes you want to take the trip. This will engage you and make you more excited and more focused when you’re there. Ask questions to the person you’re going to train with so you know they know their shit and aren’t going to sacrifice your body to Thor. Ask what safety materials will you need and what kind of gear the person recommends. Find out what you should prepare beforehand. Be curious.

        Hope that helps!
        Andrew

  • saki
    July 26, 2014 (10:58 pm)
    Reply

    If universities are financed by tax payers THEN university degree should be accessible to anyone for free. If an education institution survives without any help from government, it’s a different story.

    • Me
      July 28, 2014 (6:37 am)
      Reply

      What if the government funding doesn’t cover the full operational expenses of the education institution? Should all courses still be free? If so, how should the funding shortfall be made up?


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