Image Credit: DrRandomFactor (Modified by John Wick ) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
“A thought, even a possibility, can shatter and transform us.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Sprechen sie Deutsch?
I was already aware that Germany had one of the lowest tuition rates in the world for its students, however today I learned that they have abolished tuition for University students. This includes foreign students from the United States as well as other countries. As a product of the US University system and a member of Generation X, I am among the typical American who has gathered quite a substantial student loan debt in order to further my professional career. Any news about alternatives that exist in other countries is always interesting.
What is most interesting to me is the philosophical outlook that Germany has taken with regard to university education. According to CBS News
a Hamburg Senator, Dorothee Staplefeldt, commented that tuition is “Unjust” and that the fees “… discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”
Did you catch that? It was an acknowledgment that the fees universities charge can put education out of the reach of students who need it the most. It was a politician actually standing up and saying that one of the roles of politics is to serve the people!
Writer Lynn O’Shaugnessy (@CollegeBlogs
) Brings up some excellent points. She stated, “It’s too bad that politicians in the U.S. don’t feel that a college education is worth supporting appropriately.” She also brought up the continued quarter century decline of state aid to public universities in the United States.
Fear of an Educated Planet
It seems that much of the discussion regarding education in the United States, currently, is centered around Common Core State Standards, Federal Funding to schools, Assessment, Value Added Evaluations, etc. Some talk has come up, from time to time, about reducing student loan debt etc. However at the heart of the issue is a philosophical belief that we should charge (and charge heavily) for an education. This fear of an educated planet only pushes us further into debt (students and government alike) and hinders our ability to compete in the global market.
It seems we (The United States) likes to compare our education systems to other education systems only when we are being self deprecating. Its far easier to say that others are better than us and to find ourselves in the quagmire of political debate rather than attempting to solve the root of our issues.
Our system is not broken. Our philosophy simply needs changing and we need people to take a stand so that we can offer education to all those who truly desire to be educated. Instead of focusing on our cultural currency that demands “Money for Nothing and our Chicks for Free” (as Dire Straits once sang) why not focus on eliminating the need for student currency to attend university. Educated students entering our workforce will be better equipped to tackle the issues that face our nation on a daily basis. If we want to compete in our own nation, let alone on a global scale, its time we demand Money for Nothing and our Tuition for Free.