Education -- National Attitudes Toward Free Higher Term Paper

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Education -- National Attitudes Toward Free Higher Education

In the United States, the cost of college education has risen continually for decades. Today, the average cost of attending a private nonprofit four-year college or university in the U.S. is approximately $20,000 annually, without even including the other inevitable related costs that can nearly double that price (Hout, 2011). While federal and state student loans have provided invaluable assistance to generations of American college students, many of those resources are fast becoming unavailable as a result if the current economic climate that has forced so many cuts to state and federal budgets. Tuition-free higher education has never been widely available in the U.S. except for a very small minority of students who qualify for achievement-based academic scholarships (Hout, 2011).

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Meanwhile, free higher education is comparatively common throughout Western European nations (Ciccone & Peri, 2006). That discrepancy has lead some critics of the American education system to suggest that higher education is a right rather than a privilege, albeit a right that has not been adequately provided for. In reality, it is difficult to justify that conclusion, at least on the basis of contemporary definition and analyses of affirmative rights. On the other hand, it is certainly in this nation's best future interests to support higher education as much as possible because the inevitable consequences of failing to do so include loss of competitive positioning in the increasingly global business and high-tech international community (Hout, 2011).

The Conceptual Difference between Educational Rights and Educational Privileges

Term Paper on Education -- National Attitudes Toward Free Higher Assignment

In principle, every American has a legal right to higher education in the sense that no person may legally be refused a position in higher education programs through discrimination (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009). In that sense, education is an absolute right in the U.S. However, that right is not absolute: it can be limited by the inability of a student to pay tuition fees and other costs, as well as by the failure to satisfy the educational standards for admission to a particular academic institution. That is perfectly consistent with other aspects of American society. For example, every American has the constitutional right to employment, housing, travel, and marriage in the same sense that none of those opportunities can be denied to individuals by the state or by other individuals. Yet there is absolutely no right, so to speak, to secure every specific job, or to housing or travel opportunities that the individual cannot afford to pay for, or to marry a particular individual without the mutual desire of that person (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009).

Rights, unlike privileges, do not have to be earned by their beneficiaries. By contrast, most privileges that are granted in modern society, such as to borrow money from a lender, to work for a selective organization, to practice in a licensed field, and even to obtain a driver's license are all privileges that must be earned, such as by establishing creditworthiness, professional credentials, and driving skills, respectively. On one hand, none of those privileges may be denied on an improper basis (i.e. discrimination and prejudice); on the other hand, the right to apply for loans, employment, professional licenses, housing, and driving privileges are always qualified rights in that they are subject to satisfying appropriate objective criteria and the standards established for the allocation of those rights. Higher education is no different: every person in the U.S. has a legally protected right to fair consideration for any educational opportunity that is available. However, institutions of higher learning do not have any obligation to admit any particular student, much less to provide educational services at no charge. In fact, for the state to require otherwise would be a violation of the rights of private institutions (Edwards, Wattenberg, & Lineberry, 2009).

Comparative Survey of Free Education Opportunities in Western Nations

In Canada, higher education is not free; rather, educational institutions of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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