education

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Why study economics?

Republished from The Australian, by John Lodewijks, University of Western Sydney

WHY does a case for economics need to be made in the first place? Surely economics is the foundation discipline for studies in business, finance, accounting and related fields. Acknowledged as the queen of the social sciences, the scientific community recognises the value of the discipline with the award of Nobel Prizes.

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Looking into Child Labour in India

Child labour is hardly a new phenomenon. Some countries have attempted to address and curb this prevailing issue and yet, the number of children engaged in child labour continues to persist and climb. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are reportedly 246 million children trapped in child labour in the world, out of which approximately 70% of them toil long, hard hours under exploitative and perilous conditions.

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Why we sometimes have to rob Peter to pay Paul

Critics have called it “incoherent” and “schizophrenic” [1].

It sounds alarming on its own, but the Federal Government’s $2.3bn proposed cuts to funding for tertiary education is not the be-all and end-all to signing off David Gonski’s school funding deal. And while less spending money is never a good thing, opponents of the funding cuts are sounding the alarmist gong too soon.

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Will the Gonski reforms mean higher teacher salaries?

Great teachers inspire their students profoundly and provide a foundation from which learning is optimally facilitated. They often do not just teach the required material; rather, they show students the process of learning and thus enable them to achieve academically without as much direct teacher instruction and support. Perhaps the greatest problem facing Australia’s education system is that we simply do not have enough of these great teachers.

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So what is economics?

A piece inspired by my friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances who have yet discovered their appreciation for economics.

Should you be studying?

From discussing the possibilities of making tertiary education more accessible, I now segue to the other side of the debate: Are there too many people getting university degrees, and are they worth it?

The issue is exacerbated in the US, where the stakes are so much higher. A college education not only incorporates all the learning during the years of your degree, but is also the quintessential cultural experience of every middle-class youth: from madly rushing fraternities, to playing beer pong at the pre-football match tailgate party, to sharing the best places on campus for an all-nighter before finals – there comes a time in every man’s life, and college is not that time. But behind all the fun are the hours spent working and the years of family planning to accumulate the college fund necessary to pay for the degree.

Peter Theil, American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, hedge fund manager, first outside investor in Facebook and all-round success-story offers his two cents:

“Education is a bubble in a classic sense…It’s basically extremely overpriced. People are not getting their money’s worth…And at the same time it is something that is incredibly intensely believed; there’s this sort of psycho-social component to people taking on these enormous debts when they go to college simply because that’s what everybody’s doing.”1

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Do Tertiary Subsidies affect Tertiary Accessibility?

Earlier this year the Grattan Institute published Graduate Winners, a report which suggested that government subsidies for tertiary education should be cut, given the already strong incentives to pursue higher education, and the low net public benefits that students of certain disciplines accord to society.

To paraphrase, the private benefits that a person gains from attending university, for example, their future income as compared to someone without tertiary qualifications, is large enough to motivate higher education, even if today’s government subsidies were cut. Therefore students should pay more for their tertiary studies. Government subsidies for higher education therefore seem somewhat redundant when an ample incentive already exists for students to undertake further study.

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