Friday, September 30, 2011

Rethinking further education!

The argument in favor of government funding of education, is that an educated population is for the general benefit of the citizenry.
The argument in favor of doing this via a loan provision rather than by direct subsidy is that this provides a handle whereby market mechanisms can dictate subject choices.
The idea of a liberal education is a worthy one, and one of relevance to me where some of my adult courses are offered to the long term unemployed via a back to education initiative. 
On this program we have been instructed that it is no longer considered appropriate to enroll post retirement individuals, as they are unlikely to re-enter the workforce.
This restriction arises because the money comes from the European Social Fund which was set up to reduce differences in prosperity and living standards across the EU and is devoted to promoting employment.
The model here is clearly two fold.
 1) Education impacts on society primarily by increasing the amount and quality of employment. This argument is suspect when you consider the high levels of education and unemployment in some of the countries involved in the Arab spring.
2) Differences in prosperity in the EU can be reduced by making Germany pay for the rest of us. This may work, but may not have been what the politicians were thinking of when they framed the legislation. 
It may be time to rethink this program as EU funding is getting tight.
it may now be the right time to give all such students a good background in the Stioc philosophy, rather than waving the chimera of "wonderful hi tech jobs waiting" in front of them.

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