Free College Does Not Mean More Graduates

Providing access to higher education is a popular idea. Unfortunately, the true benefits and more importantly, the costs of college with no tuition are seldom examined in depth. People from countries that do not provide college education free of tuition often cite European countries that do. They are quick to point out that these countries are able. But most fail to consider how stringent admissions in these colleges are as well as the rates of income tax in these countries. Furthermore, countries that do not charge tuition for college lag those that do charge in terms of the percentage of college graduates:

Above copied from OECD
In the above graph, countries with no college tuition are highlighted. Countries that do charge tuition are among those that have the highest percentage of its population with a tertiary education. The Philippines should learn from this data. The country cannot afford to pay for the college education for everyone. Its institutions of higher education are sorely lacking in quality. A college degree in the Philippines is no guarantee for a good paying job especially when the market is saturated with college graduates from schools of very low quality. The country needs a lot of infrastructure and support for its basic education system. An emphasis must be made to provide poor children access to higher education, but this starts with giving them a good basic education so that they are college-ready after completing high school. There is really no point in giving tuition-free college if poor children are not even finishing high school.



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