In the current economic and political climate, many governments have a reflex of economizing their expenditures. In light of this recent development, ESU supports the Flemish student representatives, in their statement against the current widespread trend of economizing in public higher education and the ever-increasing financial pressure students experience.
Research of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 2011 has shown that public investment in education is a fruitful venture for an OECD country. A man/woman (as the study uses these two genders) with a higher education degree typically yields a ‘profit’ of 90.000/55.000 USD average a year for the state, but a HE degree is very valuable as well to shape critical thinking human beings and personal development. We want to make a call to the government to invest in the future of our society, to invest in our education.
Apart from our concern about the lack of investments from the Flemish government, we want to raise awareness about the increasing cost of education in a growing number of countries. This growing cost of education could become (or in some countries already is) an extra threshold for students with a low socio-economic status, further limiting access to higher education. Most of the European countries want to guarantee democratic education via a system of public scholarships. As student representatives, we support this system but we have to be careful that those scholarships are sufficient to cover all costs of education.
However, not only the cost for education can present a problem. Many students have to work in order to be able to afford their tuition fees and study costs. Through a survey organized by the student council of Ghent University, completed by more than 7000 Flemish students, we could conclude that the combination between work and studying is not self-evident for all students. Twenty percent of the students said that they had too little time to study, partly because of the job they had to do to pay for various aspects of their education. As student representatives, we have to be aware of the difficulties that these students experience and raise awareness to this alarming trend.