Education is all about the process of learning. But how well does it imply in the west, which is often looked upon as the 'elites' in educating their population? And if the purpose of education, as understood by many, is to earn a living, it seems it has failed to achieve that too! This is the story of higher education in the west.
The college completion rate in the US is dropping sharply. Merely 65% of the total students in public institutions in America complete their graduation. About 35% quit without a degree. The insights could be drawn from the comparative outcomes of private non-profit and private for-profit institutions which suggest that in non-profit institutions the number of students graduating is 39% more than that of for-profit. The dropout rate in for-profit is almost thrice the dropout rate in non-profit institutions (Cooper, 2017). This clearly indicates less affordability of education in America or may also be the worth of investment in education to the returns in form of employment are too less.
The annual inflation for high school education in the US is 5.1%. This totals up to $117,900 per year for a college education! To support students, federal loans are available to the students. With about 43 billion borrowers, the total amount of outstanding student loans was $1.75 trillion in 2021, growing from $1.7 trillion in 2020 and $1.57 trillion in 2019 which stands more than the credit debt in the US, creating a similar bubble that crashed the economy in 2008, due to increasing number of defaulters. This means that a large number of students are unable to repay their loans.
So, does this huge investment in education payback to the students? With student-loan ballooning, the debate is heating up whether or not a degree is worth the price tag in the US? Underemployment has become a severe issue in The United States. According to National Inflation Agency, 30% of the recent high school graduates did not attend college but 70% of them have a job. Contrary to this, only 42% of the college graduates have a job and most of their jobs do not require a degree at all! More than half a million college graduates who complete their degree, don’t work in their field of study.
Then who makes research in America world-class? According to a report from the National Foundation for American Policy, a research organization focused on immigration and the economy, 81% of full-time graduate students in electrical and petroleum engineering programs at U.S. universities are international students, and 79% in computer science. The report, which updates a previous version published in 2013, argues that at many U.S. universities “both majors and graduate programs could not be maintained without international students.” The report found that between 1995 and 2015 the domestic students’ enrolments in computer science programs rose by 45% whereas that of international students rose by 480%. The similar figures for the electrical graduate course are 17% and 270% for domestic and international students respectively! Lesser number of American students get mainstreamed into higher education. One of the reasons is the loan debt of college, which forces the students to continue their what-so-ever job in order to repay, which often takes a decade.
Affordability is a major setback in this culture of elite institutions. This ultimately burdens youth with unpayable debts eclipsing their lifelong stability. And while the cost of higher education continues to inflate, wages for average US workers remain low. It is time that the younger nations look up to the consequences. It is time to learn from the mistakes of the west and rethink and restructure the future of education by improving affordability and spare education from elitism and exclusivity.
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NSC Research Centre. (2019). Completing College-State-2019. National Student Clearinghouse Research Centre. Available at https://nscresearchcenter.org/signature-report-16-state-supplement-completing-college-a-state-level-view-of-student-completion-rates/
Fain, P. (2015). College completion rates decline more rapidly. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/11/17/college-completion-rates-decline-more-rapidly
Srinivasan, N. (2018). The American education system is broken. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/the-american-education-system-is-broken-4-30-263fbca64837
Friedman, Z. (2018). Student Load debt statistics in 2018: A $1,5 trillion crisis. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2018/06/13/student-loan-debt-statistics-2018/#7356e4047310
Redden, E. (2017). Foreign Students and Graduate STEM Enrollment. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/10/11/foreign-students-and-graduate-stem-enrollment
Nova, A. (2018). Why your first job out of college really matters. CNBC. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/25/why-your-first-job-out-of-college-really-really-matters.html
Advexon Science Network (2016, Dec 7). America's Broken Education System-Full Documentary. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/iiNts6rVfQY