The Hour of Truth: Instead of extorting money from the state, start pushing for tuition, dear academics
What stands out among the current battles over state money are the protests by university teachers in the humanities, who are demanding a one-time state grant to boost their incomes and a subsequent systemic solution to correct their undervalued salaries. It is very striking that such educated people cannot think of anything else than holding out their palms to the state to give more. Perhaps they could understand the context of their situation and that of the state’s finances and, more importantly, have the courage and imagination to come up with a solution that would not take more money from the state treasury.
We all know academics in our area whose total income is far from low because they earn money from their accompanying activities, i.e. mainly from honoraria. A culture of personal initiative and responsibility for one’s own life is what is inherent in a functioning society.
This is the first level of the solution, but it is clear that, for example, a less extroverted scientist may not have much chance of making it „in the market“. For such academics, there are a number of grants, but the main issue on the subject of money for humanities academics should be the distribution of money in the universities themselves. Indeed, it is clear that some of the keys to the distribution of state money in universities date back to the 1990s and need to be reconsidered.
This is, therefore, the second level of a possible solution. But then, finally, we need to open up the subject of a truly systemic solution to the situation of university teachers. That is tuition fees.
The socialist notion that education should be „free“ is monstrous and can never lead to truly quality educational institutions, where scientific disciplines are not linked by their innovations to industries or other big business. Paying tuition fees is fair. It is the right investment and the burden should be borne by those who are educated and thus increase their social status. Not their parents.
SOURCE: Šafr, Pavel. “Hodina Pravdy: Místo Vymáhání Peněz Od Státu Začněte Prosazovat Školné, Milí Akademici.” FORUM24, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.forum24.cz/hodina-pravdy-misto-vymahani-penez-od-statu-zacnete-prosazovat-skolne-mili-akademici.
According to Pavel Šafr, the editor-in-chief and the author of the article, the ruling centre-right Czech coalition is not responsible for the ongoing crisis and the struggles the unsettling current situation brought onto the population. Political parties on the right side of the spectrum usually value individual freedom and believe success and well-being depend mostly on the person. The government, in their opinion, should play a limited role in people’s lives. However, university teachers, state workers, are blaming the government for their worsening situation.
There is an example of fallacy in the article within the claim that the income of the teachers is not low. However, the Czech university teachers actually made less money than their colleagues at high schools last year. The amount of state money that goes to university education declined from 20 % to 11,9 % of the Czech Ministry of Education budget in the past 12 years.
The author suggests an easy solution to the complaints of humanities university teachers. The chief editor expresses his fondness toward tuition fees, similar to the conservative centre-right party ODS with the highest number of politicians in the Parliament that has been pushing the idea of tuition fees for multiple years. The claim mentioned in the article “paying tuition fee is fair” is an excellent example of political bias.
For certain governments, tuition fees are a way to deal with higher education budget deficits. Higher education thus can be viewed, from a neo-liberal standpoint, as a private good and students become consumers who have to succeed in the competitive market which spirals back to the idea of right-wing politics idea of success dependent on the singular person. However, there is another perspective to look at tuition fees. Investing in public goods such as higher education is not only beneficial for the individual student but the whole society. Distributing knowledge and skills improves employability and economic growth. It also leads to better public health and a lower crime rate. Not to mention that higher education is associated with certain factors of democracy. HE offers a basis for equality since each citizen can improve their life intellectually and materially.
At the moment, there are no tuition fees in the Czech Republic, however, 92 % of Czech students are working next to their studies, which is the highest number in Europe. Additionally, the Czech Republic is a country where poverty and poor conditions are very easily inherited from generation to generation.
There is an example of fallacy and political bias contained in the claim that “no free education can be quality education”, as quality is interpreted solely as the ability to connect to industries to make financial profit. Countries with no tuition fees such as Sweden, Germany and Austria rank high in the quality of their universities. Germany’s two tuition-free universities appeared in the top 10 highest-ranking European universities alongside Cambridge and Oxford University.
The author seems like he is looking down on social sciences and humanities. The article suggests the teachers‘ incompetence in understanding the problem of state finances and that in order to relieve the government’s struggles the teachers have to survive from their goodwill. But why is the target only humanities and social sciences teachers? The thing is, higher education operates like a business. Academic institutions are entering the market and offering their expertise. Neo-liberalism comes into play. In contrast with STEM, humanities and social sciences cannot offer innovation that can be monetized. It is difficult to quantify findings in fields such as philosophy, sociology, linguistics or music arts. Nevertheless, does it mean that social sciences and humanities are less valuable?
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about the source:
FORUM24 calls itself an independent media outlet that was created as a reaction to the former Czech PM and billionaire (and other oligarchs) Andrej Babiš’s purchase of two big Czech newspapers. The online medium openly declares that their main agenda is to fight against Andrej Babiš. Their aim is to replace the place of MF Dnes and Lidové noviny owned by the former Prime Minister. The medium’s political orientation is centrist, slightly to the right. FORUM24 is fond of the current government and their target group is mainly voters of the ruling conservative coalition SPOLU. The medium has problems with properly providing its sources sometimes.