On Thursday, the South Alabama Board of Trustees approved a raise in tuition at the University next year. If the decision is passed, students would have to pay an additional $600 in tuition, a 7.7% increase. The changes would affect the 2012-2013 school year. Tuition currently stands at $7,380 a year, and would go up to $7,950.
The raise in fees is being brought on because of reduced funding from the state. The University is losing $41 million in state funding.
This is not good news for anyone seeking higher education. Parents who wish to pay for their children’s college education are already being squeezed by higher food and gas costs. Wages have been stagnant in this country for roughly 30 years as the price of everything else goes up. This is not the first tuition hike parents have faced either, as the price of a college education has been skyrocketing for the past few years as well.
The road is not any easier for students wishing to pay for college themselves. Some economists are predicting that the next debt bubble to explode will be student loan debt. College educated students are buried by this debt, and with a weak economy they are not guaranteed jobs with a degree anymore. Student loan debt is something that sticks, it can not be shaken in bankruptcy.
The higher education system in America is still one of the best in the world, and students from across the globe strive to come here to attend our universities. We are pricing our students out of opportunity. As the global economy gets more competitive, we are essentially shooting ourselves in the foot by doing so. We need our citizens to be more educated, not less.
Drastic changes are needed in our education system if we are to remain competitive on a global level. First, we must accept that not all young people need a college education. College is not for everyone. There are countless success stories of entrepreneurs who skipped out on college and did very well for themselves. Of course, we can’t count on everyone who doesn’t go to college becoming the next Bill Gates, but we should provide a path for them to be able to support themselves.
For those that do not go to college, we need to expand the use of trade schools. In fact, it may not be a bad idea to have all students in high school study some type of trade. That way, they will always have a skill to fall back on. In the digital age, there are numerous computer related fields that could be taught at the high school level and provide the training needed for good paying jobs. Other trades such as mechanic, HVAC technician, carpentry, etc are also always going to need workers.
For those that do attend college, we need to make sure there are jobs available when they graduate. The government must fix our trade policy and protect some jobs here at home. Overall, globalization and free trade are good things. Right now they have run amok, and caused world labor to become a race to the bottom with industries outsourcing all of their operations to the cheapest labor countries. In a consumer driven economy, this evaporation of jobs has been lethal. Credit has saved us up until this point, but it can not last forever.
Our education and trade policy are two of the biggest factors in the ongoing decline of America. If changes are not made, we will fall from our perch atop the world. China is rapidly rising, and though they face major problems of their own in the future, they will surpass the US within the next decade unless we become more competitive. We are being challenged, its time to see if we rise to meet it, or crumble under pressure.