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The Whole Hog: University Challenge
There are numerous reasons why people do or don’t go to college – but for those who choose the third level route , it’s important to enjoy the experience to the full.
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 10 Sep 2012
Such high numbers can’t be sustained without commitment from both the State, the individual and families. The State pays out over €8bn a year on education. That’s a lot of money, representing a seventh (that’s over 14%) of all expenditure. As for individuals, figures from StudentFinance.ie indicate an annual cost of €7,500 for attending college. Living at home halves the cost but how many can do that? And is it a good thing anyway?
And what price could you put on the time and dedication expended on learning?
It’s a huge undertaking. Which begs a question: why, individually and collectively, do we do it?
For politicians and officials, first and foremost it’s about building and maintaining a high skills base for our economy. The colleges acknowledge that, but also talk of learning, scholarship, college life. It can sound utopian. Who wouldn’t want it?
But economists frequently argue that people commit to study, and families support them, because they weigh the advantages accruing from higher education – a person with a degree earns more than a person without – and choose them: the so-called rational choice model. .
That may be true. But graduate pay scales very greatly. Social work, for example, is poorly paid compared with many technological degrees. So the earning dividend is limited.
Maybe it’s as much to do with getting a qualification and a set of skills that make you marketable in the labour market? That seems significant in the light of the ebb and flow of CAO points, the choices that have been made over the years and how they have changed with the economic cycles.
For example, In some colleges you now can’t give away places on construction and property related courses. Equally, since the recession began, colleges have seen an increase in applications from people seeking to return to education…
Or maybe it’s about being with your own, a kind of giant dating and networking machine that’s a key engine of social reproduction. The Higher Education Authority published the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-2013: disturbingly, the number of young people from semi and unskilled families going on to college has fallen from 10.8% (3,730) to 8% (3,212) since 2004.