Future Of Higher Education

Fees must fallHigher education has become a very common day to day topic of discussion, especially amongst the millennial generation. When we look back at the older generation, we cannot even compare the cost of schools from then and today because of the huge gap difference.



Earlier this year, College Board released the yearly cost statistics of American colleges. They reported that the average tuition cost and fees at a private, non-profit, four-year University this year was $31,231—up sharply from $1,832 in 1971-1972. At public, four-year schools, tuition and fees cost about $9,139 this year. In the 1971 school year, they added up to less than $500 in current dollars.

A report released from an educational advocacy group, 'Young Invincible', showcases the exact statistics of this ongoing issue. The Data that was accumulated in the research, has shown that the average share of college fees and tuition paid by a student's family, jumped from 36% in pre-recession 2008 to 50% in 2014. In the meantime, states have cut per-student spending by an average of 21% in that same period (some by as much as 41%) and hiked up tuition by even more.

While comparing on a state level, the numbers portrayed were far less. 'Young Invincible' scored each state on its public education support, and not more than eight states received grades of B or higher. According to 'Young Invincible', Louisiana has had the Largest Cuts to Higher Education since Recession with 41% and Vermont Lowest Cuts to Higher Education since Recession with negative 11%.

High college tuition in America seems to not only affect the U.S. but also other countries in the world. Halfway across the other side of the globe in South Africa, the grass is not that much greener. South African students are currently protesting against the increasing tuition at universities all around the country. The #FeesMustFall which is the official name of the movement, initially began late last year at the University of Witwatersrand campus and now other Universities like Stellenbosch, University of Cape Town and many others have joined in taking the stand.

In the last couple of weeks, the protests have gotten quite intense. Not only have classes been cancelled but major campuses like the University of Western Cape (UWT), University of Kwazulu Natal (UKN) and among many others have been temporarily shut down. Along with the protests, certain number of issues have caused quite a stir of controversies. For example the issue of race which has been brought to question.

Granting the focus of the protests is mostly the rise in fees, other factors have added to the cause of the movement. Lack of funding of higher education from the government and the quality of education offered to minority students or those from poor backgrounds who are already struggling to attend university, has added to socio-economic and racial inequality issues.

Cecilia Mullin a junior at St Michael's College in Burlington Vermont, cannot help but relate to the South African students. Mullin who's originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a biology student studying abroad at Stellenbosch University and is quite familiar with the pain of increased tuition in her school that she eventually has to pay off from the the loans she's taken out. Although Mullin goes to a private school, the struggle is more or less the same. Higher education is expensive. According to The College Board, the average 2014-2015 tuition increase was 3.7 percent at private colleges, and 2.9 percent at public universities.

"I do understand the pain of the local students who already can't afford to go to school, but now have to deal with another struggle of increased tuition; it's just not fair. The only difference is at least I am guaranteed a job where most of the locals, it might not be the same," said Mullin.

Sarah Freeman who goes to school in Montana but is also studying abroad in South Africa cannot help but be inspired by the passion from those who are protesting and making a difference. Freeman says, "The way people here are able to fight for what they believe in and make a change is really inspiring while back at home we tend to be a little complacent and conform to the system, which should not be an excuse." Freeman continues to say that, "Even though we have different opportunities and ways to acquire the funds to go to school, it's not the same for students here in South Africa. If they are denied a bursary or cannot be approved for a loan through the different loan systems, it's the end of the road."

With the ongoing elections, most folks are asking our running candidates on their strategy when it comes to tuition and fees in the higher education sector. While Bernie Sanders was still in the running for presidency, one of the issues he promised citizens that he would tackle, was the increasing cost of college tuition which explained his huge support from the youth and the younger generation.

Although programs like the Obama student loan forgiveness and non-profit organizations that are helping out with student loans, the increasing tuition that's occurring in most public colleges and universities around the nation, are forcing many students to graduate college with exceedingly large amounts of debt.

Not only are students being affected, also universities and colleges are being faced with the side effects. Research shows that with the increase tuition, students from low economic backgrounds are more likely to drop out of school just to avoid being in debt. This can then lead to low student population within institutions. Lyndon State College was recently merged with Johnson State College due to financial crisis. With low student enrolment institutions are being forced to shut down or find other alternatives.