In the United Kingdom, and elsewhere from my conversations with colleagues in the UK and Australia, there has been an almost irresistible force towards making learning simply another economic transaction.
Gone is the idea that ‘learning’ and ‘education’ are public goods, which enrich all as learners deploy their skill to the benefit of society, funded by the State to ensure that there is an abundant supply of well educated people to lead the nation and develop the economy.
Increasingly the access to further and higher education becomes an economic transaction in which the individual must source the funds to access higher education. At the same time, the globalisation of educational improvement means that there is a greater supply of graduates than ever. Therefore the old impetus for gaining a degree – it is the passport to a well paid job for life, no longer holds true and all graduates will experience considerable turbulence in their careers which may well be punctuated with periods of no and under employment.
The net result of these changes favours those with money over those without and disenfranchises those from poorer economic backgrounds.
This article gives a glimpse of the big picture. The social costs of these changes are still to be fully calculated: My students have paid £9,000 and now they think they own me | Higher Education Network | The Guardian