Emphasis mine on "this year".
> Twice as many students thought their courses offered poor value (44%) than in 2019-20
So it used to be better in non-pandemic years.
Seems that some people is jumping to conclusions about education in the UK when the article is specifically about presidential/non-presidential and other pandemic challenges.
but yeah i totally get they feel they're not getting their money's worth with zoom classes..
Upsy-daisy. It sounds cooler, thou.
I still remember how not so long time ago it wasn't uncommon to have masters as a bare minimum when hiring a secretary in my country...
I think what is really going on with degrees being a poor investment, is that most degrees don't actually teach valuable skills or they do and the students just don't actually put in the necessary work to achieve those skills. Instead treating it as a game of how to pass while putting in as little work as possible. That was at least my experience TAing computer science courses. Most students were just not mature enough to value the education that was being offered.
EDIT: A more generous interpretation to the students would be that they were simply jaded after a lack luster and uninspiring high school education plus a similar experience in probably many of the college classes they were taking.
While obviously this does happen, I think degrees do teach valuable skills and many students put in obscene levels of work to learn the material, resulting in ever-increasing competition for basically every facet of the job market - from university admissions all the way through job interviews. To me the issue isn’t students not understanding the true value of their education (and who could blame them? How is a 20 year old to know why their professor planned things out the way he did or why they are not learning Python as the blogosphere insists?). The real issue is that - like the article said - the benefits of this extra work seem marginal. Either way you will be competing against hundreds for entry level software development jobs with the greatest discriminator being referrals and prior industry experience. Whether you put in 8 extra hours a week to truly understand Dijkstra doesn’t get you much in the way of an interview.
The change is because employers love degrees... they prove that a job applicant can reliably get out of bed and do quality work in a timely fashion (and thus reduce the risk for the employer to hire someone who turns out to be a "bad fit", have mental health issues etc.), and especially the IT degrees have a large part of knowledge transfer and training in them that the employer doesn't have to pay for like in a classic apprenticeship.
Academia should be a place for science and those interested in advancing it, not for employers to save costs on vetting and training (by placing the burden on the government and/or the students)!
Any place in it for the Arts?
The most valuable education is at the primary level (0 to 10 years old); then secondary (to 18); and tertiary education hardly has any effect whatsoever.
By the point you're an adult, you aren't being "moulded" into anything, you're merely acquiring particular useful bits of knowledge that only have value if you're going to use them.
What we have now is people spending tens of thousands to avoid earning money for several years; and thereby avoiding acquiring useful skills.
And this is an economic catastrophe which burdens everyone in society and grossly misdirects public funds.
I would be very supportive of an 12mo "generic higher learning skills" programmes being deployed at this scale. ie., something closer to a teenager-to-gradscheme transition programme which could include higher-level generic maths, writing, humanities, etc. skills.
However what we have now is a gigantic tulip-style bubble that needs bursting or else we will continue to needlessly in-debt the next generations of people.
The emperor really has no clothes on: your* degree really was a waste of money....
(* perhaps less so for HN readers )
This is the education I use all the time to make money. It matters that I can write and do arithmetic, but my entire career is based on what I learned after the age of 18.
I started programming as a child, and used this irc-gained knowledge and self-study to earn money till c. 26.
I studied physics during. Much of what I make money with now was gained via MIT/Stanford/et al. initially on iTunes U, and latterly on youtube -- both during my apparent "attendance" at university; and for years afterwards.
It would have been entirely possible for me to skip my entire university experience and still have the postgrad level of knowledge I have now: as almost all of it was gained via free lecture courses.
You might say I'm cheating here: the content is still provided by some universities. Sure.
The question remains whether even for the very high end, this process needs years at university; and whether all of them need to repeat it. Let alone how meaningless the process is on the low-end.
I have been offered a PhD in a highly technical area (which I declined) -- and I can assure you nearly everything which landed me in that position had little to do with whatever my university "did". I barely attended.
“We don’t need formal schooling beyond middle school because everyone can learn job skills as a child, and then self-study graduate level material from books and youtube and do independent PhD-level research with no funding, structure, or support.”
This argument strongly reminds me of the guy I met who claimed nobody needs a paid job because they can just scavenge free food from restaurant garbage bins.
I wasn't answering the question; I was asking it.
It is still clearly the case the university has a role. I just do not think we have caught up to how well employers can train their employees; how well even highly advanced skills can be acquired; how very very recent advancements (youtube, etc.) can provide a good-quality education; and so on.
In an age where meaningful professional development can be made without the university, there is a serious question to be asked: how many will meaningfully benefit from the university system? (And: how many are meaningfully harmed?).
The answer, in both cases, is surely: some.
A lot of those have got very good, and we have to ask ourselves what value we add to the learning process. It's still something we're discussing, and it's definitely led us to alter how we think about training (and out of our safe areas!)
Consider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCs5OvhV9S4 or anything of this kind.
And ask: what is David doing as the narrator (of his own thought process) ?
I think many people do enjoy university as an environment where like minded people are there to share different ideas. Just as a zoom meeting is no replacement for real meeting, i don't think sitting through MIT youtube channels is the same as actually attending MIT.
There's an increasingly large number of second tier school admins that are making the opposite bet (more online programs, wider admission pool, commuter and all-online certificates). My bet is that in the next 20 years we'll see an even bigger gap between the online crowd and the few in-person institutions that will remain.
Employers can sponsor degrees, it's still efficient to have specialised educators.
The issue here is that if students fund their own education, they have "skin in the game", and don't rely on employers to gatekeep these roles.
That said, maybe an education tied to an actual job offer would be best; there are too many un-economic degrees given to 18yos - it might be best if the risk in an education was only put on an individual who was already older and somewhat financially secure.
Though, I'm sure the need for good friends and connections could be provided in other ways whilst studying. All things are subject to change and needs will be met if they're important enough.
I'm curious what your degree is in and what you do. My degrees (undergraduate and graduate) were in CS, and I've been employed as a computer programmer my whole life. It's rare to nonexistent that I actually do something for work that I was specifically taught to do by a university professor; there's a pervasive belief here on HN and elsewhere that a CS degree is useless for a programming job (a smaller minority might even suggest that a CS degree disqualifies you from being capable of programming computers professionally). Since I can't say that I learned how to, say, debug a program, or construct a SQL statement, or isolate a performance issue, or diagnose a network connection problem in college, the only counter I have to this viewpoint is that college exposed me to more general problem-solving techniques that are more abstract but broadly useful. Of course, I'll never know if I'd have been just as effective a programmer without ever having set foot in a college or not.
When do our societies ever look at the silly shit they're into and say "this shit is silly, let's stop it"? The Civil Rights movement maybe... Usually tho it comes to doubling down on the silly until something else breaks.
I mean... my degree is why I can work in the United States and has been (and will continue to be) worth an unbelievable amount of money.
More seriously though, a university education can be very valuable (we can measure the wage premium ), but the cost matters. A 4 year degree at in-state state school prices is almost always worth it (provided you graduate). It is difficult to tease out how much of the value is selection effects vs. signaling vs. credentialism vs. networking vs. exposure to challenge/opportunity vs. skills vs. knowledge vs. stepping stone to a professional degree (medicine/law/engineering/nursing). Thinking about my own experience, obviously the credential was a huge deal, but so was my school's co-op program that got me my first software jobs, and there are still classes that shaped the way I think to this day .
Where things go off the rails is when people think they can buy their way into the upper classes by getting a degree from a prestigious school (and spend way too much doing so), or people get snookered by for profit colleges or people who don't have a good chance of completing get pressured into going to a four year program and end up with the debt, but not the credential (you mostly don't get partial credit).
You could argue that the wage premium is just class discrimination through credentialism. Maybe it is... but then that's the thing that needs to be dismantled. As an individual if you have a good shot at finishing a 4 year degree and can afford it, you should probably play the game unless you happen to have much better options.
 Eg. $640/week median college vs. high school in Q4 2020: https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2018/07/is-college-still-wor...
 The crash course in epistemology in my Evolutionary Biology class, the complementary rationalism of my Discrete Mathematics Course, the Econ 101 perspective from Introduction to Micro-Economics. Not to mention the tour of data-structures and algorithms from my Computer Science classes so I can do leet code interviews :). Maybe I could have picked the stuff up on my own, but would I have if I was working in a factory back home?
You say more highly educated people is better as if its a truism, it doesn't seem so clear to me. I don't see why, for example, someone spending their early 20s in an apprenticeship, doing vocational training or in an industry learning on the job is inherently worse for them or society than receiving a higher education.
Just about the only unambiguous positive I can see in university is the chance to grow and learn as a young person in a social setting, freshly independent of parents. But surely there are more efficient approaches that could be employed here.
the fact that these subjects offer minimal value should mean that the loan taken to study them should not have been taken. If the student likes the subject, and would be willing to pay, then so be it. But to borrow money, off the back of tax payers, to study a useless subject, is basically folly on the part of the administration approving those loans.
I'd be happy with people being simply 'educated'. Too many people barely graduated high school, lack all kinds of skills, have poor reading/writing abilities.
That's a dangerous statement in isolation.
For a country with a median income of $35k, imposing debts worth $200k for degrees with questionable employability and no clear resolution (Can't pay off, can't default) is insanely dangerous.
Education is also not a monolith. Some careers need education, in that gaining skills in the profession requires a degree of instruction or apprenticeship (Medicine, Pure Sciences, Engineering etc). But a large number of them end up being paper pushers or knowledge from a single course or learn everything on their first job. For this second cohort, education can be burden with terrible payoff.
A lot of educational fields are also entirely unemployable. This includes 3 type of professions:
1. Pyramid schemes - where the only real job is in instruction of the next generation.
2. Priest - where they create a dogma that mandates them as essential in the system, but have no use in isolation.
3. Professional disk golfer - where there is only 1 employable position, and about a million wannabes.
As of now, progressive society is pushing people to consider all kinds of professions as equal. However, the equivalency is flawed. The risk/reward ratio of getting educated varies massively across professions. It can vary from a ticket to the upper-middle-class to being entirely useless equivalent to homeopath or hucksterism in terms of unsubstantiated merit.
The university system was never created for everyone to get educated. The concept has existed only post GI-bill and seemed to work in a Boomer-era post scarcity America. (Nothing that worked well in America from 1950-1980 should be taken as an example that can be replicated. It was a special time in history. It would be like trying to be Saudi prince without an oil well in your backyard)
I am strongly in favor of higher education for all. However, it needs to either be fully distanced from the present university mafia or the universities must be compelled to produce economically productive graduates across their various offerings. Universities sell a financial product. It is about time we see their variables-controlled return on investment with th fine grained granularity that we evaluate any other financial product. Lest we get stuck with sub-prime graduates bundled into funds that are considered AAA because there are a large enough number of them in it.
No, they do not. Universities offer undergraduate education to school leavers. Both schools and universities bend over backwards to inform prospective students on the fit between degrees and careers. Students pursue degrees with poor career options despite advice and the offerings in the humanities are shrinking.
A feature you overlooked is how bad the graduate employment market is for even the degrees most favoured by employers.
If there are any similar institutions in the UK, they are the wealthiest Oxbridge colleges. The students at these places do not so much think their degrees are overpriced.
That joke was far more true than people think -- the Yale model is now common in institutional investment.
Few oxbridge colleges are anywhere near as wealthy in comparison, and a lot have gigantic white elephants with their grade I listed buildings that are falling apart.
Long before Yale, King's College Cambridge pioneered sophisticated investment management: Keynes turned around the college's assets on the 1930s during the Great Depression to become level with the traditionally wealthiest Cambridge college, Trinity, which had long had vast property assets.
> No they do not.
Then why are student loans (in the US) the only loans not dischargable in bankruptcy? If I live like an irresponsable asshole, run up credit card debt right and left, buy a car and who knows what else I can't afford and it finally catches up to me, I can just throw up my hands and say "Ok, you've got me. Bankruptcy." They'll take my fancy stuff, my credit takes a hit, and I can move on with my life with a clean slate.
On the other hand, if I try to improve myself and my community by getting educated to get a good job, go into debt doing so, and then can't repay the debt because the good jobs the university promised aren't actually there, I can NEVER GET RID OF THAT DEBT. It will literally follow me until the day I die. Why? Because Universities are mostly a scam, and the people running them know it. If they had any faith in the education they were providing, they would put their money where their mouth was and let people discharge the loans if needed. Almost everything in the modern era has a "Satisfaction or your money back" guarantee, except education. The reason is that they have no faith in the product they're selling.
>Both schools and universities bend over backwards to inform prospective students on the fit between degrees and careers.
On the contrary, there was a whole industry, the for profit college industry, that existed solely by lying about the viability of the education they provided. Thankfully those have largely collapsed now, but the ordinary college world is hardly any better. As just one example, nearly all of them trumpet the well-worn graphs showing the connection between college education and increasing income, despite those graphs being blatant lies (income goes up among college graduates because most people from rich families go to college, not because college makes you more employable).
There was a time, post WWII, that college was a no-brainer. That time is long past. And it's amazing how much of the population is still hypnotized into believing, and ardently defending, the idea that college is still a good idea for anyone who isn't already rich. Young people's futures are being destroyed. The future of many nations is being destroyed. Huge amounts of public funds are being wasted. And yet people still keep defending the scam.
If you came from a well-off family, went to college, and got a great job related to your degree, great. Understand that most college attendees are not you. Most are middle-class or lower, desperately trying to find some way to avoid working in the service industry for the rest of their lives. And most will fail, with a debt burden that is modest to you, but devastating to them.
In the US, the loans are overwhelmingly made through the Federal system, not by universities.
"Caplan argues that the primary function of education is not to enhance students' skills but to certify their intelligence, conscientiousness, and conformity—attributes that are valued by employers. He ultimately estimates that approximately 80% of individuals' return to education is the result of signaling, with the remainder due to human capital accumulation."
The UK has compounded the situation by increasing debt for students, structured student load repayment so that payments kick in at an income threshold, and then embarked on the Brexit adventure.
It's a mistake to look at the supply of graduates without looking at the changes in the graduate labour market.
For a decade+, people have framed "the college experience" as the reason you should attend instead of getting skills online or on your own. Then they promote their great facilities, beautiful campus, state of the art labs, etc.
When THAT is your main value prop and then suddenly take it away, what do you expect will happen?
The community college route was brought up (with my name specifically), and although the presenter brought up the benefits of a 2-year school none of the other students and parents were having it. They were certain that "the college experience" was the only way forward.
I was able to graduate from the CC and transfer to a public 4-year school as a junior. The tuition was minimal (compared to a private university) and paid off without hassle, and if I'd gone the "traditional" college route I don't think I would've been as lucky.
My only saving grace was it was free at the time. If I’d had a (larger) pile of debt placed in front of me I’d have done something else with my life.
The debt question, at least in the UK, is more academic than anything - I'm currently earning 30k a year (which is already more than I need to live comfortably) and I'm paying £20 a month back on my loan. In 30 odd years the debt will be wiped off and given that you only pay back 6% of income above 27k it's not really like you'd ever notice it. FWIW my friends that went to uni and ended up with non-vocational degrees are earning around the 20k mark if they're working full time so chances are they won't even get close to having to consider their student loans for a good while.
In terms of the specifics I learned on my degree I would have to agree that not much of what was taught is actually helpful in my career but having four years to mature as a person, especially in an atmosphere where you're surrounded by other people who are happy to discuss engineering and related projects, has helped in a way I could never put a price tag on.
My daughter is hoping to study medicine next year. That’s going to be interesting on the finance front.
But if you remove London and 2-3 university towns, what is left of the UK is more similar to an Eastern European country than to Germany or France. Salaries are extremely low, but cost of life is low as well.
I found the vast majority of my computer science courses a waste of time, stuff I could have learned by myself. But the electronics stuff was very useful as I had access to labs and equipment I wouldn't of otherwise had.
I don't think you should expect your university education to prepare you to hit the ground running when you get your first job. It teaches you the foundation so that you can then learn to do your job.
Of course I don't know what you were taught in university nor which field of electrical engineering you went into, maybe you truly got nothing out of it.
As for incorrectness, to this day I am pissed off that one of the principal lecturers who had precisely zero industry experience shot down an email I sent privately to ask for some material to be corrected. How dare I submit errata! When I landed in industry I took this to a senior design engineer who explained to me in simple terms that the guy was a “jobsworth cunt”.
As another point of view, my university courses were useful to someone who had jsut tried it out the spring before their freshman year. It introduced me to concepts and put me against (at the time) difficult problems that I could tackle along side my peers. My Data Structure and Alg class was the most useful since it allowed me to restructure the way I way I saw CS as a whole. The things I learn now are entirely structured based on how I learn CS and would not be the same had I learned it on my own.
To experiment with software concepts "all" you need is a computer and a compiler. Experimenting with electronics required power supplies, signal generators, FPGAs etc. The barrier to entry is much higher in my opinion. I'm grateful I got access to those labs during my study and felt like it was worth the money.
> The things I learn now are entirely structured based on how I learn CS and would not be the same had I learned it on my own
I didn't have that experience. My lecturers were a bit shit in my opinion, and I ended up learning everything from watching recorded lectures from MIT/Stanford/anywhere I could find. Had I not gone to university and watched those lectures I would have ended up with the same knowledge. I felt like the point of my CS modules at university was entirely just to get a piece of paper confirming what I managed to teach myself.
For me it was worth it. I immediately went into programming, and taught myself everything. While being useless for programming, my EE degree gave me a foot in the door and I made the most of it. I started in a bank in IT but was able to move into programming by lying and saying I was a full time programmer. I was doing programming on my own at home so I could legit program (they didn’t have interviews like Microsoft or Google back when I was starting off).
Soon after I moved to Silicon Valley and it’s been pretty good ever since. I’m mostly retired now after 25 years and the pandemic was the thing that convinced me into retirement.
I guess there is no need for that and I should just "grind" practical circuits until I understand them.
This is surprising to me because the nature of imperfect components makes EE far more complicated than software development where you do not have to care about choosing a for loop manufactured by Samsung vs Panasonic that is good up to 1000 iterations or that it is polarized so your for loop can only increment, not decrement. Add a hundred components each with their own characteristics and your head will split.
This is not something they teach you at university. It’s all narrow forward engineering and simple theoretical analysis.
There is a better education in having a pile of broken shit with incorrect service manuals and fixing it when it comes to EE. Test gear is fun because you get it for nothing, fix it and then use it to fix the next thing.
An EE degree will absolutely help you pick out components for a circuit.
Computers and digital logic lend themselves towards a sense of everything being deterministic and understandable.
Analog electronics, radio waves, radio wave propagation- I've heard all of those described by EE's (with degrees) as essentially black magic. It isn't black magic obviously, but I think much of those issues end up driving people to experiment with physically building things instead of relying solely on paper. This is just my impression. I think antenna simulation has gotten better recently for example.
Another weird thing about EE, that seems to break what many (including me) expect it to be.. it feels like assumptions and approximations layered on top of one another. Take a simple diode. It has a certain current/voltage curve, but what I was taught about designing with them, is that generally you would use an approximation of the curve. Not the actual curve. Oftentimes, in lab, we would treat the voltage drop across a diode as being independent of current, which is absolutely false! But that is the way that EEs think of diodes, because it works! It's a game of learning what assumptions can be made to simplify analysis.
You might want to try this for learning about electronics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Electronics
another good example of how EE's reduce more complicated circuits down to simpler approximations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%A9venin%27s_theorem
I think you are generalizing too much here. There's certainly some cases where a simple model of a diode works, but aren't there other cases where a more exact model is beneficial. I find it hard to believe that EE's graduate believing that one model fits all, unless its a pretty poor curriculum (for whatever reason). I'm not saying it is impossible to find a poor EE program, but we should be blaming those institutions instead of electrical engineering in general.
If I was 18 now I wouldn't bother going, I would admit that I'm lucky in how much my parents and grandparents could teach me.
In my experience (as someone who graduated decades ago), the degree, particularly for liberal arts majors, opened a lot of doors for opportunities that might not have happened without them. But I went to a state school for a cost that seemed high in the 90's but now seems like a huge bargain.
Here's Northeasterns stats on degree what degree earns what (maybe a university isn't the most unbiased resource but..):
This studies does neglect the huge debt that students accrued because college is crazy expensive now.
I'm not sure if anything similar in the US exists, but Stats Canada puts out data on employment by majors in Canada.
 shows that graduates of the humanities and social sciences have the highest rate of underemployment whereas graduates of nursing, engineering, CS, and education programs have the lowest rate of underemployment.
 performs a comparison of workers from 1991 to 2011 and concludes that underemployment rates (called overqualification here) have not changed much. Field of study is broken out for the 2011 group, however, the 1991 data isn't broken out.
 Breaks out salary for graduates of Canadian majors (118 fields of study for men, 123 fields of study for women) 5 years after graduation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, it does not break this down by university, and it seems to lump computer science in with math. Surveys completed in BC  show that for self-reported earnings there is a difference in earnings for the same major across different universities. It also treats math and computer science separately and in some cases, CS majors earn 2x math majors two years after graduating.
Community college is a second class citizen and it's hard to convince people of its merits to society.
The national news media should declare a two year moratorium on reporting about the "elite" colleges, and spend that time investigating the community and regional college systems.
It's hard to do anything about it, as you pointed out, since the best are those who transfer out.
UK universities mostly exist to print money at the moment...
For many students, university is a 3-4 year government funded (student "loan") binge.
I think this is one of the major problems with everything nowadays. Everything is so bloated and removed from its original purpose.
If we want a space for young adults to let loose and party before having to conform to adulthood, then let’s build that separate from education so my tuition isn’t paying for the frat parties that I don’t go to.
If we want diversity and inclusion, then let that be a separate nonprofit that works with schools so that my tuition isn’t paying for my college to have more administrators than professors.
Furthermore, college sports:
“SHAPIRO: The principles that underlay the NCAA's philosophy seem like reasonable principles. Students should be amateurs. They should be college students. They should not be paid millions of dollars. But so many of the stories you tell seem like distortions of those reasonable principles, like people are just divorced from reality or out to get a student for no good reason. Did you get a sense of what is actually going on (laughter) in people's heads in all of these stories that you retell?
NOCERA: I think I do have a pretty good sense of it. Amateurism, which is the core principle of the NCAA, may have started out as a good idea, but with so much money now flowing into college sports, it's become a sham. And it's become kind of an excuse not to pay the labor force who are brining in the billions of dollars that are enriching everybody else. The NCAA itself is a kind of bureaucratic, rules-oriented organization…” (https://www.npr.org/2016/02/15/466848768/indentured-explores...)
“The solution in my opinion is to do away with college athletic scholarships and preferred admission for athletes. Let school's field their sports teams from their normal student bodies and ensure that those teams are truly amateur and the participants really are "student-athletes". Let the NBA and the NFL field their own semi-professional minor leagues like baseball does.”
Admittedly, I am bitter about my college experience and probably wouldn’t have such a harsh opinion if it had been better. Like the other comments here mentioned, I found a CS degree to be a sham and I learned more and better on my own than I ever did listening to professors all of whom were worse at teaching than YouTube (especially considering that high quality channels like 3Blue1Brown exist) and some of whom can’t actually speak or write English well. A CS degree didn’t help me get a job but starting a hardware club did which is where my gripe comes from. There was never funding for clubs (that actually get students doing things they would do at their future job) or for professors to do research projects that students (like me) get to help with and build job experience. But somehow the activities and recreations always got an expansion.
"We are a non-profit making government-owned organisation that administers loans and grants to students in colleges and universities in the UK."
In many cases, it's never paid back in full, and the students don't ever need to worry about it.
From the perspective of many students, it's free money.
It's a sweet deal for employers to create a natural disincentive for people to ask for raises though, while keeping the outward appearance of fairness.
If you earn £21,000 and the threshold is £20,000, you only pay back a portion of £1,000, not all of the £21,000.
Nobody says no to an extra £700 if offered on a plate but the lower the % you get of a raise the less motivated you are to chase it.
In my experience, student loan repayments are, until you are way above the threshold, a relatively minor number on your paycheques; dwarfed by income tax, national insurance, and pension contributions.
Its implicit in the ideology of capitalism that the former is equivalent to the latter.
A large part of the value of a degree is, I believe;
* fleeing the "nest" and exploring your adult persona in a fresh environment
* Socialising and building social capital
Naturally, few of these things are possible in a pandemic.
My sister is about as bright as a black hole and managed to get a masters degree in Law.
My friends wife is also as dense as a collapsed star and was on-track to get a PhD, until she dropped out.
These are not measures of intelligence, knowledge or aptitude, just ability to recite in rote and vomit the words of a book or professor back at the institution, and it puts you in debt to do it.
As an employer a degree tells me nearly nothing.
And yes; some jobs require a degree, but the people that filter through are thick as shit so it's not a measure of anything. Just an institutionalised cost of entry.
(and I will be downvoted, by people defensive of their degree/debt, likely due to a sunk cost fallacy, but I have a degree and I'm thick as shit too so I'm speaking for myself also)
I did my undergrad at one of the Oxbridge colleges, and it was very clear you could fail if you either weren't clever enough or didn't put in sufficient effort. If you turned up without having completed the work they just sent you straight back home with a black mark that counted against you when you failed the exams and wanted another go. Exam questions basically only awarded 33% of the marks for "bookwork" and the rest required you to demonstrate an actual mastery of the topic.
My grad school was at a Russel group school (the tier just below Oxbridge), and it was clear that the undergrads there could just coast as long as they handed something in. If they turned up to a tutorial without having done the homework there were very few consequences. If you failed the exams there was an automatic retest in the summer. If you could regurgitate your text book you would probably get a 2:1.
Still, I think it's important to have formal education, because most young people aren't self-organized enough to learn on their own. Also, universities are important social institutions (yeah, sounds ironic in 2021) where social skills and connections obtained can dramatically influence your life decades after the education is finished.
Until then, it's about value for money.
in my lifetime. The education hasn’t improved. Nor has the job prospects. Outside about three outstanding universities, and a few with good specialties, the rest are average at best.
Example: I studied in Edinburgh from 2008–2012, but was from Wales. I had to pay around £1800 per year tuition fees, but accommodation at its cheapest worked out at £300 per month, without taking into account costs like light and heat.
I have a student loan of about £30k, of which about £9k was tuition fees.
Free tuition would have saved me between a quarter and a third of the cost of going to university.
Now fees are greater than £9k per year, which many believe is absurd. Based on my example, assuming no inflation on living costs, I would have borrowings of £84k without even taking into account interest – all of which I would almost certainly never repay.
However fees are only paid by the government if a Scottish student (including those from elsewhere the EU, at least before Brexit) studies in Scotland; not if they study elsewhere in the UK.
You can’t create a market for something and provide no additional value.
My alma mater, UVA, currently estimates the total cost of attendance for in-state (subsidized by state government) at $34k/year (tuition, room-board, other expenses). For out-of-state students, that number is $68k/year. And this is a state university, not a private institution.
Online, Cheap and Elite: https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2018...
Coursera offers one online BS in computer science with the University of London  costing £11,229 - £16,790 Depending upon geographic location.
Edx offers microbachelors degrees, but doesn't seem to yet offer a BS in CS.
Oregon State Uni offers an online BS in CS for $69,480 USD in tuition (180 credits * $386/credit).
To your point, it can certainly be delivered relatively cheaply online, but there doesn't seem to be an incentive to do so. If we use GT as the benchmark, then 10k / 2 years should mean that a 4 year degree can be offered for 20k / 4 years.
It seems delivering MS programs more cheaply is not the biggest barrier in US higher education. It seems a bigger impact would be to deliver the BS level education more cost effectively.
Ok, I make 30% more with my degree, but all of that is swallowed up by increased rent/mortgage costs (since White collar jobs are usually restricted to a few expensive cities), and progressively higher taxes.
We need to teach people self-reliance, critical thought, economic literacy and common business sense and support entrepreneurship at the most basic level financially and educationally. Invest in providing professional education (electrician, plumber, mechanics etc.) and provide an aggressive intern plan like what Germany does for their small and medium businesses.
Too much bureaucracy?
I shudder to imagine what they would think about paying hundreds of thousands for a US education...
UK on other hand is like light version of US.
2. Knowledge is more and more readily available and is not limited to degree holders.
3. Politics is infecting universities with propaganda.
4. Universities are coming up with useless degrees in order to attract students.
5. Universities focus too much on degrees and grades and not enough on knowledge.
I've seen pretty blatant cheating pushed under the rug as it was more effort to pursue it than the course leader could be bothered with (after all these were paying customers).
Either way, the debt is hanging on their heads (with interest) and it is a complete scam. (Last year definitely showed just that)
Money Saving Expert have a very good guide that details this further .
* debt incurs interest at rates way above what someone could get a personal loan for
* it still affects people's ability to borrow when it comes to house buying etc
* if your parents are rich enough to pay your fees then you don't pay the tax
* if you earn enough to pay of the debt quickly they you'll pay less than someone with a middling income who earns enough to pay a lot but not clear the debt
Just make a proper graduate tax instead is my view
I do not blame the students of this year to dispute about paying for the university fees when they are going to either retake because their exams were cancelled (due to COVID) or the quality of the course was not good enough and is not worth it.
COVID just made it even glaringly obvious and worse.