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I can only provide anecdotal evidence. I come from a poor family and studied in India in a government university by paying $20/year. The cost of providing that education was estimated at $1000/year and private universities used to charge as much. If the government had not provided that subsidy, I would not have taken a loan to the tune of $1000/year because that would have been too risky. I would have opted for the less risky option of herding cows.

Fast forward 15 years, I worked in a research lab and in 2009 I paid more than $12000 in income tax alone. I also created more employment by spending the money I earned. The government got a great return on its investment and it can now fund the education of more people -- a virtuous cycle.

Almost half my class was in a similar situation and most of them are doing good.




It's not so much anecdotal as circumstantial. If everyone was taking the loan, you probably would too. It is the same in England, were students took loans for 3,5k pounds a year and now even 9k a year.

Now I am not saying that the British system is the ideal (pros and cons) but I can certainly provide some more anecdotal evidence of many people who study for free (in the Czech Republic) and are basically wasting the system resources (both in terms of taking up spaces in classes and having the tax status of a student). But possibly even better argument for tuition is the level of funding for universities. It certainly seems greater in tuition based systems (I know the US and UK one) vs government sponsored one (like the Czech one).


This is my exactly my point. In the US, many students take an educational loan -- but, I would argue that most students in the lower social strata (e.g. African Americans whose parents have not had the benefit of college education) still think consider it a risky option and that 'it is not for them'. And those who graduate after a student loan are forced to take suboptimal choices (because now they have to pay back that loan). Also, I don't understand why a university education has to be so expensive -- you can get great content through MOOCs. If you can somehow combine that with mentoring (from senior students), you can easily provide low cost, high quality education to those who need it.


>> "consider it a risky option"

In the UK system there is no risk. You only have to pay back the loan (form the government) when you are earning over a certain amount per year. It is taken directly from your salary like other taxes. If you never earn enough money you never have to pay it back. If you choose to live and work abroad you don't have to pay either.


In the U.S. student loans can be very high risk. There's no guarantee your degree will help you get a higher paying job, and the loan repayment requirements are the strongest imaginable, even bankruptcy can't wipe student loans off your debt.


People still _perceive_ it as risky - "OMG I'll be in £27,000 in debt after I graduate" - even if it's not actually risky for the reasons you mention!

I've long thought that framing it as a graduate tax would be much less discouraging to potential students.


A graduate tax would be worse, because you would never finish repaying it.


You do have to pay it back if you live abroad, although I don't know how they would enforce it. http://www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk/portal/page?_pageid=93...


I don't think it's enforced at all. I know several people who worked abroad for years and didn't start paying until they came back.


I wish there was something like this in the US.


In the US, it's very risky. If you default on your loan, your credit will be terrible, and your credit determines the quality of your life. It determines what house you can get and whether you can get internet service.

You have to pay your loan regardless of whether you have a job or not, or whatever your financial condition is. Exceptions can be made (you go through a loan handler, so it's whatever they say) but overall it's a risk. It's just a risk that pays off for most people.

That UK system sounds pretty wonderful.


The US has a similar system to the UK called Income Based Repayment. It is not the default option, but I think it works similarly in principle.


I believe that can only be used on government loans, not private loans. Yet another reason to avoid private student loans if at all possible.


Why don't you (or lots of US citizens) lobby for introducing a law that student loans only have to be paid back as long as you earn a decent amount of money (as in the UK according to a post higher in the tree)?


If you want to go to university, and you're not from a privileged economic background, avoiding private student loans isn't really possible, unfortunately. Doubly so, because people from disadvantaged economic backgrounds have no idea how to find government money to help them attend college in the first place. And government loans usually don't cover all of the expenses related to university anyway, so private loans become necessary.


>> "And government loans usually don't cover all of the expenses related to university anyway, so private loans become necessary."

Again, not in the UK. Students here are given two loans. One to cover tuition and a separate one for cost of living. It's not much but it's enough for a student to get by.


Which is why we have community colleges, which are heavily subsidized, focused mostly on paying careers, and affordable to people making little money.


Considering that African-Americans are who all sorts of really sketchy for-profit vocational colleges are marketing themselves to (Corinthian College, anyone?), it's not really surprising that this demographic thinks that college is a risky option.


> but I can certainly provide some more anecdotal evidence of many people who study for free (in the Czech Republic) and are basically wasting the system resources (both in terms of taking up spaces in classes and having the tax status of a student).

That's more of an anecdotal evidence of a shitty public university system. I don't know how it works in the Czech Republic other than from your comment, but in Slovenia, it's extremely wasteful, even though it doesn't need to be.

The primary issue is that students have awesome tax and other financial benefits. First, you don't pay tax for (I'm not completely sure, but lets say) more than the minimum wage as a student. Then, you get subsidized food (lunch coupons), free healthcare (as long as one of your parents is employed) and lots of benefits with private companies (I had a bank card that allowed me free withdrawals anywhere in the EU, even in a different currency). Personally, I don't see an issue with free healthcare (I think it should be free for everyone, as it is in the UK), but tax breaks and lunches are a unnecessary benefit.

This issue is exploited by "perpetual students" - basically, there is no incentive, nor requirement, that you finish your studies "in time". The only limit is that you can have the student status until you're 26 years old, so many people stretch their studies beyond what's necessary and work for private businesses, gaining experience and not being taxed, for several years before they complete the last exams and graduate. (Then they complain that they can't get a job, because all the businesses prefer to hire students, because they're cheaper).

If education was free, but you were required to finish on time and there were no tax benefits of being a student, the system would waste much less money. To reduce the cost even more, the government could automatically give you a "nominal loan" that was automatically canceled when you finish your study, so only people who study and don't finish would have to pay, and you'd also have to pay for any additional years you need (e.g. if you fail a year).


> To reduce the cost even more, the government could automatically give you a "nominal loan" that was automatically canceled when you finish your study, so only people who study and don't finish would have to pay, and you'd also have to pay for any additional years you need

Watch out; independently of being an effective idea or not, this would create a strong incentive for extensive corruption.


the NS is free at the point of delivery which is great but we do pay NI which pays for the NHS and other benefits.


Maybe a free education, but add a screening process to measure the psychology of the student, help choose a profession or trade that will not be a waste of their time.


This is true. I had to clear an 'entrance examination' to prove my aptitude in engineering. But the problem is the people who would benefit the most from free education (at the lower social/income strata) will most likely have poor aptitude for high-income potential professions as well, because of poor primary and secondary schools they would have had access to. I know that some institutes take such students and provide one year of remedial education before providing an engineering education. They will take one more year to graduate, but overall a win-win situation.


Do they have the problem of vastly differential funding between local schools in 21st century Germany?


In the US some public schools are vastly better than others even when they receive similar funding. Quality of the local schools is a significant factor in home prices.


As an example, I saved about 20% on my house by buying in the zone for a lower-quality school.


Not when I grew up ~10 years ago


University should not be trade or professional school.


That ship is in the Guinness Book of Records under, "Longest distance sailed." These days, practically every university student is there to better their job prospects.


Unfortunately, the thing that I think would be the most useful doesn't seem to be available. I would like something that was somewhere between a trade school and a university.

I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, which is really the minimum degree I would have chosen to get a job in my present field. However, probably at least 50% of the classes I took to get that degree were a complete waste of my time.

"Trade schools" in my view have a reputation for not having enough depth in the field for which they are targeted (at least, in the United States). The perception when I graduated was that a CS degree was way better than any "tech school" degree -- if you wanted to get a job, that is.

I would have loved to have gone to a school that offered a very deep Computer Science program that was targeted just at Computer Science. I didn't need or want English, Philosophy, Sociology, and all of the other worthless classes that I was forced to take to fulfill the requirements. Math classes make sense, those have useful applications in my chosen field.

And I don't have a problem with anyone that wants to take those kind of classes either. It's just that I had a specific goal in mind when I enrolled, and the results could have been so much more satisfying if the curriculum had been better targeted.

If I were starting over today (with all the resources available on the internet, etc) I would consider not going to college at all. It has become prohibitively expensive in the United States, and from what I understand things have not really changed much (and if they have it is probably for the worse). There are a ton of very high-quality resources for learning available online (many of which I wish I had more time to use). I am not at all discounting the value of well-designed classes in a school setting. However, I do think that people tend to underestimate how much a self-driven person can learn on their own.

Also, I would be far more likely to plan to be self-employed (if I were starting today) that I would have been when I was entering college. At that time, I just wouldn't have considered it. Today I'm sure that I could make that happen.


Right; to be clear, Instead of University students could be directed to a trade or profession that would suit them better (than wasting everyone's time in a four-year institution)


I think you've completely missed the point of what university is for. University is to study something you're passionate about at a high level, it isn't neccesstily a gateway to a job. There are plenty of people who study something such as art or history but then never go into careers in any way related to those. Dictating people's university choices is a terrible idea.


Right but a huge amount of students are taking loans (because they cant afford school at the moment) for college so they can pay it back when they have increased job prospects. It doesnt make sense to spend 60K on school if you will never be able to pay it back.


Very true.

We held up 'having a bachelors degree' as a requirement for getting a job, no matter what the job is. It's a way of narrowing the applicant pool.

And it completely distorted the purpose of university.

IMHO, everyone who qualifies academically should have the opportunity to - free of charge - go to university. It raises the level of cultural discourse.

On the other hand, trade schools are completely stigmatized in this country - and many of them are simply scams that don't do a very good job at training you at all (see: ECPI).

Post-secondary education in the USA is completely ass backwards, with conflicting priorities, an upside down profit motive, and a cultural perception of either being absolutely necessary or absolutely lib'rul and evil intellectualism that's-a destroyin' amurka.


In Germany you can in theory study anything you want if you have a high school/Gymnasium degree. However, places are limited and they are given out based on your GPA. Every semester you wait for a spot your GPA gets lowered for the purpose of this calculation. So if you have bad grades and want to study psychology you might have to wait 10 years. So either you are a great student or you are super dedicated. I think this is a decent filter.


> However, places are limited and they are given out based on your GPA

That's mostly a thing of the past and almost only applicable to human medicine anymore.

Today universities are free to set their own admission standards and procedures, and while school grades play a big role in it, you have realistic chances to get in based on some other measure of merit. Or even luck in a lottery.


Should probably add that in Germany lower GPA is better. So longer wait = higher priority.


Why should the king dictate what Who does with their time?


Well, it's not the king but the government representing the people who are paying the bills.


I see, thanks for clarifying. Perhaps you can use your superior education to explain when and where the terms "right" and "left" were defined; and then help me understand how liberalization of education and training over time has been counterproductive to society.


what an awful idea

maybe measure the shape of their head too, save time and send them straight to jail if they have criminal phrenology


You mean like in the movie, Divergent?


Nope. Divergent's screening process involved bloodletting to choose a career path, then an aggressive testing process where those who fail were cast outside polite society with zero chance of ever pursuing any other options.


I am from Iran and we have something similar to what you say ! believe me ! this doesnt work ! this is complete disaster (if you were in Iran you could understand what I am talking about , most people simply hate what they chose )! most people don't like what they chose ! and changing path have so many consequence , thus no one actually go for changing its branch/path!


That seems like a really low amount to pay for tuition. In the US, many universities charge upwards of $20,000 per year, some as high as $100,000 a year.


Are you going to cite facts to back up your claims of a $100,000 university? You roughly doubled the tuition, room and board, and required fees of NYU, commonly cited as the most expensive private U.S. university.


Well, an MBA from Stanford is $100,000 per year.

http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/mba/financial-aid/cost-...

Yale cost of attendance for undergrad is $63,250 per year.

http://admissions.yale.edu/faq/what-current-tuition-yale


> I would not have taken a loan to the tune of $1000/year because that would have been too risky. I would have opted for the less risky option of herding cows.

What if the loan repayments were a percentage of your salary, rather than a fixed rate? I wonder why these types of loans aren't offered...


Do you mean the monthly payments or the total payment? They offer salary-adjusted monthly payments (in the U.S. at least), but obviously you pay (a lot) more in interest that way and usually end up indentured to the loan for nearly your entire working life.


barring recent changes -- the system in Australia worked quite well.

For government subsidized university places (read - most places for Australian students) - tuition amounts were capped at specific levels. These could be deferred by All students on a loan - that charges CPI (Inflation) as it's interest rate. Repayment kicks in once the student earns a certain level - and goes up as a % depending on their income.


I agree with you.Today, IITs (best engineering universities in india) for example have fees no more than $1000 per semester. Many of my classmates who are from relatively poor background are able to study without worrying about loans and and many of them are doing very well in their careers.


Poor relative to whom? India's nominal GDP per capita is GDP $1570 per annum.


Yes but IIT graduate salary is typically around $10,000 per annum. Doesn't that allow even the poorest students to get a student loan?




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