If we are individually free, why has education become such a burden upon us?
Let us take the view of those who support positive freedom for that is what is being promoted through education. Compulsory education is supported by modern liberals as although it is a constraint on individual liberty, it leads to greater freedom in the future. They cite the example of an uneducated beggar on the street who may be described as free, but he has no freedom to walk in to the nearest hotel and book a suite for the night. However, what if we apply this principle to students who wish to study at university? If tuition fees are preventing them from going into education, then surely they are in the same position as the beggar on the street. The mantra ‘helping people to help themselves’ chanted by modern liberals fails here as rather than helping the people, they are disadvantaging them through the great cost of education.
Some would argue that freedom does actually exist as nobody is forced to go to university. Really? Apart from those who go into great apprenticeships, the reality for the rest is that university will allow you to gain a better job in the future and so is essential to your life. This can be seen in the way there are very little opportunities for those who do not have a degree in the UK economy and perhaps in the US as well. Reliance on services has reduced the amount of manual labour jobs available that could be done without a degree. This does not mean these jobs should be viewed as any less respectable, even though by the vast majority they are, it is simply the fact that they do not exist in the great numbers that they used to and certainly not in major cities like London. So this culture of university education being regarded as the only way forward has been cultivated by the economy and tradition.
Whether this is a good thing or not is not the subject being discussed. The fact is that this is how society currently works so based on that assumption, individuals are fed through the educational system with the goal being to graduate from university and only then, enter the full-time working world. However, university education has become astoundingly expensive in recent years with fees of £9,000 a year in virtually every university. This immediately poses a problem to the idea of positive freedom. If positive freedom aims to lead to economic freedom in the future, why does university education cost such a great amount? The government would counter this with the claim that as tuition fees do not have to be paid up-front, there is no constraint on freedom. Yet there is, the very fact fees are imposed upon students in the first place show that they are being forced into paying for a thing that is regarded as compulsory in the modern world. To add to this dilemma, the fees are of an extortionate amount which is not something that should be taken lightly. At the minimum, loans will incur debts of £27,000 upon graduation and that is excluding interest. Who wants to willingly have a debt of £27,000 on their shoulders as a working adult, never mind at the beginning of their twenties?
This clearly illustrates that the current fee system is in reality, against positive freedom. By burdening students with debts which have nonchalantly been dismissed by the government as okay, it forces students enter the murky, dangerous world of loans and hence helps the government and banking system. How? Well, by teaching students that taking out loans is a normal thing to do, it desensitises them from the idea of debt being a bad thing and thus could lead to them taking further unnecessary loans in the future. Furthermore, student loans would not allow people the economic freedom to do whatever they want as they grow older. If a person has his university loan to pay off, how much more difficult would it be to buy a house? The government has benefitted from this increase in tuition fees as they are likely to make money out of the interest on loans which adds to the damning evidence that rather than helping students to help themselves, the government has misinterpreted this idea and are actually helping fill their own pockets at the expense of students.