Right or service?

Higher education


The extract below was part of a magazine article on access to higher education. Your teacher has asked you to write an essay in response to the opinions expressed in the article and to give your own views. Write an essay with the title: “Higher education: right or service?”

Why shouldn’t those who benefit from the better job prospects that studying at university gives them not be asked to pay for the service? People who get a higher education invariably get better-paid jobs, so I don’t see why those who cannot or choose not to go to university should indirectly support those who do. A loan system whereby student loans would be gradually repaid after graduation not only seems a fairer system but might also encourage those who currently get to university not to take the opportunity for granted and make a bit more of their time there.

Many a time, what seems to be a dilemma between two diametrically opposed states of affairs is only superficial. If further pursuing one’s studies after secondary school is to be deemed a universal right, then it should be assumed that higher education is either necessary or desirable for virtually everyone. Such an assumption would be obviously wrong. On the other hand, if going to university simply amounts to a service not needed or aspired to by everybody, it cannot be offered to anyone free of charge. Non sequitur!First, despite Mr Smith’s allegations in The Guardian, university graduates are anything but privileged. To say that they get better paid jobs is only half the truth. The complete truth would be that they get better paid jobs if and when they get them. Most employers prefer non-graduates so that they can pay less. Thus, the fact mentioned above, far from being a privilege, turns out to be an encumbrance to university graduates.Second, if we wish to make our society fairer, based on real merit rather than on favouritism, nepotism or (ill-gained) money, we ought to encourage as many people who are eager to go to university as possible to fulfil their ambition, lifting all restrictions and financial burdens. By compelling poorer students to borrow money in order to pay for tuition fees as though accommodation and book expenditure were already not enough a hindrance to their accomplishing their studies, we would only benefit the wealthy ones. Only those who could then afford to study or would be certain that they would be able to pay off their loan because they will find an enviable post thanks to their (parents’) acquaintances and background would eventually be students. Incidentally, their becoming students not out of personal choice but because in that way they will have better jobs will do little to help them “make a bit more of their time there”, as Mr Smith wishfully thinks.All in all, higher education may not be a right but free access to it by anyone who deserves it is definitely one. And so is the right not to access it. Likewise, it is just that non-graduates enjoy the services provided to them by graduate doctors, for example, also having the freedom not to attend university. Therefore, either category of people supports each other’s right to be admitted into university or not.