A part of budget money always goes to higher education. However, every country has its own educational policies which define the percentage of these costs spent on it. Countries like Germany regard higher education as one of the priority areas, which is why it allows young people to get it for free. It means that the country entirely supports education. The US education budget and the government’s funding role are limited, and the tuition costs are almost exclusively a problem of students and their families. In fact, the loan debt in the US has reached the point of $1,300 billion. However, every once in a while, educational policies are reviewed by every country and the US is not an exception. The actions that are taken depend on the country’s current priorities: while some minimize the burden for students and their families, others try to decrease budget spendings. Let us see which budget proposals for the higher education sector the governments of the US, UK, and Australia have.
In their attempts to address the issue of the US college bubble, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton suggested two separate plans. The first plan by Clinton offers a formula, according to which students will be charged tuition fees depending on their families’ incomes. Additionally, to qualify for the subsidies, students will have to work 10 hours a week. In the politician’s opinion, students must demonstrate their willingness to study in college, and they can do it by working 1/4 of the full week. In opposition to Clinton’s proposal, Sanders’ plan suggests that the cost-free higher education should be available to every student who has the right qualifications. It means changing the requirements for applicants, which will help to get the most perspective or most motivated among them enrolled in a college. The second plan looks like it is both simple and effective, but we should see which of the two will be approved.
In early 2015, the Australian Senate tried to pass an education package that was aimed at three issues — deregulation of college fees by the government, cuts of student subsidies, and expansion of the educational system. While each of the three would have not been a problem on its own, their combination could mean harsher conditions for students and their families. This proposal can be explained by one thing, namely, power games between the Labor and Coalition, which they play at the cost of students.
Meanwhile in the UK, George Osborne of the Tory party presented the 2015 Budget which contained a number of budget cuts. One of them was related to the maintenance grants for low-income students. Previously, students from families with income of £42,620 were entitled to the annual grant starting from £547 and increasing for the poorer families. Thus, households with earnings that do not exceed £25,000 per year could apply for a grant of £3,387. According to the new Budget, the maintenance grant will be turned into loans that the students will have to pay back after graduating. When making this decision, politicians quoted statistical data that most students were more concerned about their current costs and spendings than the future ones. In other words, students won’t mind.
While in some European countries the officials have recognized the fact that higher education helps to establish the intellectual elite and facilitate innovation, other governments continue to cut costs and make education available only for the privileged groups. Let us hope that a new form of student loans in the UK will not result in crisis like in the US. The governments should acknowledge that higher education used to be a privilege once, but it is a necessity in the present-day world that is rapidly evolving.
About the Author
Steven Arndt is a passionate writer, educator and a former History teacher. He tends to reconsider the role of modern education in our society and watches with awe the freedom the youth now has.