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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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Graduate Winners

By Andrew Norton

Who should pay for higher education? It’s a question that inflames passions, as I was reminded following the release of my new Grattan Institute report, Graduate Winners: Assessing the public and private benefits of higher education. It was denounced by vice-chancellors, student groups, the university staff union, and assorted tweets.

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Why Employers Don’t Really Care What You Have Learnt at University

By Richa Deshpande

Have you ever sat in an Econometrics lecture listening to the lecturer mumble something about confidence intervals, lines of best fit etc – concepts which simply go in one ear and out the other? Where the most interesting part of the lecture is checking Facebook on your phone every minute to see if anything has changed or anxiously checking your watch to see when class will end?  Why is it that we bother to turn up to lectures at all when we aren’t interested in the subject? Often it is required to complete a specific major or course, which relates to the career path we want to enter.

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