Thursday, June 28, 2007

Education - Nationalise or privatise?

My simple rule of thumb is: that for the longer the term of the investment (before being profitable), the further it should be towards nationalisation on the continuum. Pre-school children are basically a very long term investment before what they have learnt makes an impact on society. University students, however, in a few short years, can go from being smart to being an asset to an employer, society or whatever. Therefore, the efficiency of competitive private finance is critical for universities, but almost meaningless for kindergarten. This is why I think "The Economist" is correct when it states that governments should deregulate and privatise higher education.


Dr. Clam said...

I guess you see Higher Education simply in terms of providing a product for employers, while I am more concerned with the role of Higher Education in providing fundamental research and a culture of inquiry where the payoff (if any) is much further down the track than the time separating a child's first day at school from the day she enters the workforce.

{Note my evil use off the weasel word 'simply' to trivialise your position.)

Marco said...

Not at all. The "product" is encapsulated in whom is being educated. That is if you are actually talking about education. Research results in learning that is spread amongst those who are privvy to it. I am arguing that the culture of enquiry really has to start at kindergarten or earlier. By the time a student gets past high school that culture is entrenched one way or another. Those of us that have this culture "burned in" (I believe we both have) will pursue inquiries somewhat independently of our paymasters. The long term payoff of infrastructure investment and retirement benefits is a more tangible quantity than tertiary based research. The intagible benefits of our own "thought experiments" through blogging is equally likely to come up with a long term breakthrough than research which may cost heaps. I guess there is research that is more structural in nature, but that is more the exception.