IMPACT OF HIGHER TUITION FEES IN TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS
The past two decades have seen the governments of many nations transfer the burden of paying for higher education from the state to the students. Most nations, for instance, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United States (Miller, 2010, p. 86). In these states, education has been regarded as a private commodity which benefits individuals and so has to be treated as a private good and be paid for by the individuals rather than the government since it does not directly benefit the community and the society. A trend that has been associated with the ever-growing pressure on public budgets across the globe. However, many states in western Europe have resisted the introduction of tuition fees in higher education until very recently, a good example of such states include Germany and Sweden
As anticipated, students have not responded to favorably to the imposition of fees (Miller, 2010). Notwithstanding the expected criticism about the effect of the student loans on future economic growth, concerns have shifted to the impact of the tuition fees on the participation of students. This has the objection to such arguments by the policymakers. This paper shall analyze the impact of the introduction of tuition fees and student loans in higher education. However, the argument will mainly be based on the detrimental effects of such increments on higher education globally and in Europe.
Impact of Higher Tuition Fees in tertiary institutions: Global perspective
Across the globe, we have witnessed various campaigns and demonstrations by students who are dissatisfied with the current tuition fees that universities as well as other institutions of higher education imposed on them ( Luescher et al., 2016). One of the most common campaigns was witnessed in South Africa in 2015. What started as #RhodesMustFall, the movement gained momentum and changed to a nationwide campaign of #FeesMustFall. However, it is important to note that these campaigns were taken to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp. These campaigns were later on followed by nationwide demonstrations that even made some students strip over the higher cost of education that they felt was being used to marginalize the less healthy population at the merit of the government and the various higher learning institutions.
In the United Kingdom, the higher tuition was first witnessed in 1998, after a law was passed that required full-time undergraduates to pay up to £ 1000 every year. Moreover, later in 1999, the maintenance grants were banned and substituted with loans. In the years that followed, all full-time students in the United Kingdom were charged by a variable tuition fee, which was initially capped at £3,000 per academic year. This figure increased annually, concerning the inflation rates of the economy and finally hit £3375 between 2011 and 2012. However, following the devolution and establishment of the Scottish government, it was decided that all undergraduate students studying in Scotland would not have to pay the cost of their tuition
This trend has also been witnessed in the United States whereas, from 2009, various states such as California has cut support for the support of various public institutions of higher learning with over 20% (Hemelt & Marcotte, 2011). This necessitated the board of the board of the university to impose tuition fees on the student to carter for the deficit that the institutions faced as a result of the cut. As anticipated the students did not welcome the notion of paying for tuition thereby sparking protests on campuses. However, as the fiscal pressures are still mounting, various institutions of higher learning, as well as their administrators, have acknowledged the fact that there has been a decline in the non-tuition sources of revenue (Hemelt & Marcotte, 2011) and are thereby compelled to impose tuition fees on their students
From all the incidences described in the literature above, one thing is clear. Various nations have adopted "students as consumers" approach to higher education funding (Bunce et al., 2016). This approach does represent not only a political and financial shift in higher education but also a severe shift in the fundamental education. The approach has various merits to the students considering it shifts power from the education provider to the benefactor of the educational programs (Tomlinson, 2016). As a result, the standards and quality of the services are anticipated to rise significantly since the consumers have higher expectations as well as the right to demand the services that they have paid for. For instance, the tutors as well as lecturers will be expected to be more available to the student and pay more attention to matters that are related to the students. Nonetheless, this approach has been critiqued and been associated with the erosion of the standards and quality of higher learning as the pressure on the institutions as well as the lecturers to deliver might be too much to bear.
Impact of the increment of tuition fees
The increment of tuition fees comes with a myriad of impacts. Unfortunately, the most affected individuals are the students. One of the impacts of the increase in the tuition fees is felt in the enrolment of students. The current body of research asserts that the increase in fees has greatly impacted the participation and enrolment of students from across different socio-economic backgrounds. It has been noted in the available research that the number of students from poor socio-economic background dropped tremendously as most of them were not able to meet the financial requirement of the institutions of higher learning, simultaneously, the trend was static amongst the learners from the middle or high-income homes (Karray & Matthes, 2016).
This is the case in Germany where the higher costs of higher education have kept students from the low socio-economic background from enrolling in institutions of higher learning (Karray & Matthes, 2016). The same trend has been replicated in South Africa where the higher tuition fees have sparked a campaign on the social media as well as street protests all over the nation ( Luescher et al., 2016). However, students have displayed willingness to enroll for higher education in Germany states that charge and those that do not charge tuition fees respectively. According to Karray & Matthes (2016), there exist other factors that impact students from poor socio-economic backgrounds from enrolling in higher learning institutions rather than tuition fees in specific.
In a nutshell, the impact the higher tuition fees on the enrollment of students can be termed as indirectly proportional, in that when the tuition fee is high, students, particularly from a poor socio-economic background, fail to enroll. However, rich students still enroll in the institutions of higher learning despite the higher tuition fees. This trend goes against the principle that “education should be an equalizer” that allows people from a different socio-economic background with different financial muscles to enjoy education just as much as people from a low socio-economic background. Additionally, the thought that the right to higher education is only reserved to the elite class in the society might lead to protests among the students of tertiary institutions of higher learning thereby interfering with the educational programs in the universities as well as other higher learning institutions.
Secondly, high school fees promote irregular attendance and absenteeism by students (Okoli, 2015). In a majority of the cases, students who did not drop out of school often had to find alternative residence outside the university premises where they can get cheaper accommodation. This has led a majority of students to skip classes as a way of saving money which would otherwise be used in school activities. Additionally, some students combine schooling and working, and this leads to little or no attention directed to the lectures and the class instruction thereby leading to poor performance in the cases of students. Additionally, due to financial constraints suffered by the students, a majority of them are not able to buy various resource materials as well as the internet that can be used when conducting academic research. To a further extent, some of the residential houses that students are inappropriate and uncomfortable and most of the time the supply of power are irregular making it difficult for the students to study even if they want to, this makes them less academic productive.
These constraints and challenges have therefore forced both the male and the female students to resort to some socially unacceptable behaviors such as robbery and prostitution with the goal of making ends meet (Okoli, 2015). This poor living conditions and poor lifestyle choices as a result of higher cost of education often leads to poor performance in the part of the students as a majority of them are ill prepared for serious academic exercises thereby leading to failure in examinations which is further worsened by psychological conditions such as depression and stress making the university students vulnerable to stress-related mental conditions. This has been witnessed in a majority of cases where learners resort to the use of drugs as well as other hard substance with the aim of trying to deal with the challenges that they face in school.
Thirdly, the increment in tuition fees has been associated with mental conditions (Richardson et al., 2015). It has been noted there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for mental health services for students in the United Kingdom. These same trends are also evident in the United States where it is estimated that over 15% of the student pop...