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Education Should Be Free

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Text Preview The demand is meant as a polemic against the increase of tuition fees. These fees appear to them as the price for a commodity named education or training. For them, “economic thinking” would enter a sphere where it has no business being – the sphere of university education. Education cannot be given a price and has nothing to do with “economic uses.” In addition, a high price for education would constitute another hurdle which must be overcome before “working class and minority students” can study.

This criticism of tuition fees is annoying: on the one hand, it is unclear what the protesters actually have to complain about in the commodity character of goods and services if they find fault with it in education. Do they want to say that the exchange of commodities for money is okay if it takes place where it belongs, in the economy? Do they want to endorse the opinion that money plays a useful role for supplying people with goods? One learns, namely in school, that exchange without money would be incredibly complicated; that money fulfills an “allocation function” and, as the universal means of exchange, allows access to the whole diverse world of commodities. So it says in the social studies books which prepare kids for the rules of life: a private lack of money only happens when daddy has not saved enough.

On the other hand, however, do the students infer from the increase of tuition fees what needs to be criticized in money and commodities? Namely, that with any price a hurdle has been established before one can satisfy this or that need with a good – whether this good is called a meal or an education. And they know that among their competitors for student enrollment there are those who lack the money to overcome this hurdle to university studies; that they – together with their kin – can't first save up enough because they don't earn enough and because they also cannot choose their earnings opportunities themselves; which incidentally makes them a whole... Show More

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