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Coming from a place with free university education I don't think that is right. More accessible university education, more people get university education, this raises the bar in all fields.

HR still prefers somebody who went through the trouble of getting the paper as it signals putting the effort in.

Now many jobs that previosly didn't need university education have such applicants and it becomes more mandatory to get one in order to compete. And why would you not, it is free after all.

In the end more people get higher education. it won't necessary help you getting a better job but I think it is good for society anyway.

For many others this "useless over education" is one of the reasons to introduce fees to schools. To make vocational studies worth more again and force people to think education more like an investment.

The signaling from a college degree comes directly and only from the fact that getting that degree is difficult. If you make getting the degree easier, you reduce the efficacy of the signal (assuming all the relevant people are aware of the change in difficulty). Of course, employers could start looking at other things, like grades or other academic achievements, to use as new signals.

Yes that's true. I meant making education more accesible in terms of making it free not making it less difficult. It becomes cheaper for people to give it a shot and more people end up graduating. It's true that this devalues the achievement and nobody really can hire you just because you graduated. On the other hand in a society where most of your peers have (devalued) university education you won't even get to job interview without one.

Making it free does make it less difficult, and thus weakens the signal. Many (probably most) college students go through financial hardship or at least financial inconvenience during college.

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