Preliminary Research Assignment

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Abstract

The question of whether higher education should be free on a universal basis remains topical in the current academic environment. In fact, many experts and scholars voice their concerns in regard to the education’s costs. More specifically, increased tuition fees may prevent thousands of students from obtaining a high-quality degree that will help them advance on the path to a successful career. In this regard, proponents of socialist systems of education insist on the necessity of a free access to universities and colleges. From their perspective, such an approach reflects the human-centric ideals of today’s democracies and their values.

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In a way, education may be considered a basic right of each person and the commercialization of the sphere has a lasting detrimental impact on developed societies. However, it may be wiser to take a less radical stance on the matter hand, aiming at feasible and considerate solutions. This paper argues that the unconditional access on a free basis risks decreasing the value and importance of higher education. Thus, universities can and should be free but for the people who actually want and deserve a degree.

In order to address this issue, it is vital to examine all perspectives and draw evidence-based conclusions. Thus, the research relies on the examination of the contemporary literature that investigates both advantages and disadvantages of the free higher education. The core of the body of knowledge will comprise academic articles published within the last five years in peer-reviewed journals. Diversity of opinions will be the pillar of the discussion, as it is vital to ensure a comprehensive review of the matter at hand. The presented evidence is to be used to support the central idea of the essay. More specifically, the primary argument is that higher education should, indeed, be more accessible but with a non-radical approach that still ensures the value of a university degree in the labor market.

Annotated Bibliography

Tivaringe, Tafadzwa. “The Social Unemployment Gap in South Africa: Limits of Enabling Socio-Economic Redress through Expanding Access to Higher Education.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol 27, no. 155, 2019, pp. 1-31. 

The first article presented in the current review examines the benefits of accessible education. More specifically, Tivaringe focuses on the case of the developing society of the South African Republic (2). The author explains that this country experiences strong socioeconomic disparities in the 21st century. More specifically, entire social groups have been marginalized by the society and economic relations, remaining outside the labor market and development trends. It is argued that a better access to educational opportunities will create new avenues of growth for these people. This way, universities can bridge serious socioeconomic gaps, allowing marginalized residents to become integrated in the global community.

These people will have better chances for employment and utilization of their innate talents through the lens of the academic experience. Evidently, the article in question explores the advantages of free education at length. However, in addition to doing so, it conveys a key message that can be used for this research. Accessible education is not equal to being universally free. Instead, it focuses on providing this access to those actually need and deserve it.

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Adrogue, Cecilia et al. “Gaps in Persistence under Open-Access and Tuition-Free Public Higher Education Policies.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol 26, no. 126, 2018, pp. 1-23. 

The next piece of knowledge examines the situation in which higher education is provided within an open-access, tuition-free framework. According to Adrogue et al., the introduction of such policies in Argentina has intensified the public’s interest to universities and colleges (1). Following the emerging trends, an unprecedented number of people, namely school graduates, opted for higher degrees. Subsequently, the country saw an immense surge in enrollment rates across most institutions. Nevertheless, the initial motivation became insufficient for students who soon lost interest in studies and decided to quit. Thus, Adrogue et al. report that increased enrollment rates became associated with much poorer retention and graduation percentages (6).

Apparently, as students and families no longer had to pay for the education, they did not value the process and were more subject to reconsiderations. As a result, the status of universities decreased significantly, whereas retention rates became alarmingly low. The discussion provided in this article highlights an interesting aspect of free education policies. More specifically, they attract many people who are not actually invested in obtaining a degree. Thus, a more considerate approach appears beneficial in this context.

De Gayardon, Ariane. “There is No Such Thing as Free Higher Education: A Global Perspective on the (Many) Realities of Free Systems.” Higher Education Policy, vol 32, no. 3, 2019, pp. 485-505. 

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This article relies on the critique of allegedly free paradigms of higher education. De Gayardon states that the matters of financing surrounding universities and colleges have been actively discussed across various settings (486). In this regard, the number of free higher education proponents has been equally on an increase. These people call for the complete and unrestrained access to such services by the population on a tuition-free basis. However, De Gayardon argues that free education in its ideal understanding is not attainable. Instead, these paradigms imply an array of hidden costs implemented by governments and private organization to compensate their losses (489).

As a result, the alleged access to higher education becomes outweighed by additional difficulties in adjacent spheres. The author’s stance is based on the practical evidence observed in the countries where free education systems have already been tested or fully implemented. Such criticism is indispensable for the current discussion, as it enables a better degree of objectivity. In fact, there should be a balanced approach that would protect the interests of both providers and recipients of educational services.

Butler-Adam, J. “Suffer, Little Children: Paying the Price of ‘Free’ Higher Education.” South African journal of science, vol 114, no. 3-4, 2018, pp. 1-1. 

Finally, an interesting perspective on the controversial nature of free higher education is provided by the following author. Butler-Adam discusses poor retention and drop-out rates in South Africa’s schools between grades four and twelve (1). The author of the research relates this problem to the ongoing policies of enabling free access to higher education. First of all, these policies are associated with increased expenditures, as fund become allocated to universities and colleges. Under these circumstances, fewer resources remain at the disposal of lower-level institutions, such as middle schools, as finances are limited within the system. As a result, a situation emerges in which tax payers virtually fund higher education at the expense of the basic one. As such, certain disparities and inconsistencies arise, as there can be no quality education in universities without a solid foundation from prior levels.

As per Butler-Adam’s views, the unrestrained access to higher education on a tuition-free basis is pointless, unless the adequate basic education can be provided (1). These ideas are of great interest for the envisaged research, as they highlight the complex relations within the educational system, as a whole.

Works Cited

Adrogue, Cecilia et al. “Gaps in Persistence under Open-Access and Tuition-Free Public Higher Education Policies.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol 26, no. 126, 2018, pp. 1-23. Web.

Butler-Adam, J. “Suffer, Little Children: Paying the Price of ‘Free’ Higher Education.” South African journal of science, vol 114, no. 3-4, 2018, pp. 1-1. Web.

De Gayardon, Ariane. “There is No Such Thing as Free Higher Education: A Global Perspective on the (Many) Realities of Free Systems.” Higher Education Policy, vol 32, no. 3, 2019, pp. 485-505. Web.

Tivaringe, Tafadzwa. “The Social Unemployment Gap in South Africa: Limits of Enabling Socio-Economic Redress through Expanding Access to Higher Education.” Education Policy Analysis Archives, vol 27, no. 155, 2019, pp. 1-31. Web.

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