Discussion by: Shawn WarrenIt is possible to have free higher education (with many other improvements in the civic enterprise). We do not have to suffer under the current system of institutions (universities/colleges), governments (federal/state or province) and unions (national/local) that is itself not sustainable – certainly not reproducible on a scale required by developing regions like India and China.
If the aim of the RDF is to promote reason and science, then the best way to achieve this is through education, as the religious do, of the young. I recommend philosophy be taught to grade school children, but at the other end higher education be made universally free.
Distinct from its current institutional provision, higher education is the source of reason and science, coupled with a near universally accepted connection to social mobility. If access and quality could be improved on a global scale then civilization could benefit from more thorough spread of rationalism, humanism, reason and scientific principles.
This can be achieved – with dramatic effects – by abandoning or not adopting the current triad of functionaries (including its universities and colleges) and instead adopting either of the following equally viable alternatives: 1) the professional or 2) the cooperative service paradigms.
I have argued that adoption of the professional or cooperative paradigm would reduce the total cost of higher education (not merely the advertised tuition) by at least 75% – among other substantial improvements. Nations that have ratified the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the United Nations
International Declaration of Human Rights could honour the higher education rights they explicitly enshrine (Articles 13 and 26, respectively) – including free higher education.
To my knowledge there is no higher education enterprise run as the medical, legal and engineering professions, but I maintain one could and should. As an example of higher education provided under the cooperative model look to the University of Mondragon in Spain or the New University Cooperative in Canada.
Either alternative service paradigm can provide us free higher education (of much better quality and accessibility). The RDF should seriously consider advocating replacement of the current unsustainable paradigm in favour of one that can further its and humanities objectives.