ESU reaction to Education at a Glance
The European Students’ Union agrees with the OECD’s recommendations for increased public education funding in the time of economic crisis. ”Now is the time for governments to invest”, says ESU chairperson Ligia Deca in a reaction to the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2009 (EAG) report.
ESU welcomes the repetitive EAG outcome that public financing in HE can clearly be a crucial step towards a sounder economic environment. At the same time, ESU notes that the Education at a Glance focuses mostly on employability as well as the economic return from investments in higher education, and feels that the report does not give enough attention on education as a public good and responsibility.
“The Education at a Glance report also provides sufficient arguments to prevent governments from introducing or raising tuition fees in higher education and to rather prioritise the public investment towards a tertiary-educated population”, says Deca.
Not only does Education at a Glance show the problematic fact that top performers – though not all – tend to come from a stronger social background, but it also shows that higher tuition fees don’t necessarily lead to higher completion rates of education.
“Even the so-called social solutions of interest-free student loans and social pay-back schemes do not help the fact that especially the students with a lower socio-economic background are afraid to commit financially to their education through immediate personal investments or loans instead of finding a job”, says Deca.
The EAG says that higher education “improves job prospects in general and ensures stronger attachment of the labour market in time of economic hardship”.
ESU has always strived for a strong social agenda in the higher education decision making processes, for example in the framework of the Bologna Process, where the recent Communiqué of the Leuven Ministerial Conference now affirms the need of equitable access to higher education with the final aim of the student population to reflect the diversity of our national populations.