Economic conditions have been precipitating an increased volume of political activity and grass-roots protest, so its no surprise that many of these groups are organized through students in college & university. While the issues are not limited to economic or educational concerns, the university still acts as a place where civic-minded youths can ponder ideas of social concern and invest some time making opinions known.
In England, such a political campaign has turned its attention from global politics to the school tuition bill. As the British economy is heavily reliant on banking and financial services for tax revenue, the sudden collapse of these income streams has led to a quicker than usual attempt by the government to cut costs – particularly to such expenses like education, health and employment benefits, and other social services. Some proposals have been made to privatise extsing state schools, some shift the cuts to the students with higher tuition costs, and some are talking about raising revenue with higher corporate cooperation and more advertising around campus.
Of course, that means there are some students who aren’t interested in that sort of compromise at all – and some of them are even going further to argue in favor of free college for all admitted students. Is it practical? Maybe not in the short term – but then again, many great new plans didn’t sound very practical compared to the status quo of their own day. If college costs were eliminated – and economically speaking, you can only shift the cost to someone else or society at large – some might wonder fourty years from now how we ever survived in a post-industrial society with so few college graduates and highly educated workers.
Blue collar work & manual labor – no matter how much it has been romanticized – can never be as valuable in the future as it was in the past. While some will argue for tariffs and social welfare as a means of protecting those with less access to higher education, no solution provides the long term benefits and innovation that can be generated by educating every individual to their highest potential – regardless of their personal or family ability to pay.
The pursuit of short term profits at the expense of long term sustainability is at the root of our current financial crisis. The mood is turning, in England, in the USA, and in many places that have been directly impacted by the spiraling economic situation… Perhaps now is the best time to really consider such plans as they may be designed and implemented over the next few years.