Do academia and banks favour a new Middle Ages period?

Participation of Androulla Vassiliou, member of the European Commission (5th from the left), at the event 'Education to employment: the growing skill and job gaps in Europe'. (EC Audiovisual Services, 13/01/2014).

Participation of Androulla Vassiliou, member of the European Commission (5th from the left), at the event ‘Education to employment: the growing skill and job gaps in Europe’. (EC Audiovisual Services, 13/01/2014).

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education and Culture, delivered a speech last Friday in London’s King’s College, entitled “Investing in education in times of crisis”. Her major point was that virtually all EU governments are either reducing their education spending or maintaining current levels. She added that “The latest data from Eurostat tells us that hardly any government is actually increasing education spending”.

However, the Commissioner forgot or avoided to mention that the tendency of falling government expenditure in education is not new and is not a necessity imposed by the still on-going financial and fiscal crisis. According to Eurostat, “Government expenditure on education decreased continuously from 2009 to 2011. As a ratio to GDP, government expenditure on education (also) followed a declining trend from 2002 until 2007…”. This cannot be a mere coincidence. It’s impossible that almost all EU governments to have randomly decided simultaneously to keep devoting a declining percentage of their budget to education. This tendency has then become a feature of our times.

Freezing education

When it comes to higher education, government financing becomes continuously more miser and increasingly replaced by private expenditure. Behind this new reality is a whole ideological construction, which has been developed during the past few years. It’s about ‘cost sharing’ in higher education. It means every student, who later on in his working life will reap the benefits of a university degree, should increase his or her participation in the cost of acquiring it. This new ‘ideology’ is being already applied in Britain, where the students who cannot afford to pay the latest exuberant increase of fees, can borrow from a government agency. In the first place, there are a lot of prerequisites for those loans and in any case they are being paid directly to the institutions.

Undeniably, there is some logic in this ‘cost sharing’ argument. However, its first and most important effect is that it prohibits a fast increasing part of lower-income group kids even from thinking about embarking on a university degree endeavour. Just the fact that parents may also be responsible for the repayment of the loan discourages the families of the prospective students. Until some years ago, the only screening procedure for aspiring university students was only one; grades.

Now there is an additional screen for university candidates; family income. Some decades ago when the ‘economics of education’ became an independent academic discipline, the first researchers concluded that fathers’ income was one of the main determinants of a successful university entrance. No need to say that a university degree guarantees a life-long remuneration differential for all graduates.

It seems that nowadays family income continuously gains importance in this affair and thus helps perpetuate income inequality. From time immemorial wealthy families had much better chances to see their offspring acquiring a university degree. Now that a fast growing part of candidates coming from poorer families are excluded from the competition, the wealthy kids have increased possibilities to be accepted by a first rate but hideously expensive university. In short, income inequality is now constantly boosted as a university entrance screen.

Less bright minds

At the same time the universities themselves loose the possibility of examining more entrance applications. In this way the more prestigious and expensive institutions lose some bright minds. As a result, the entire society loses the extra impetus and the scientific results that those additional bright minds could offer.

It is as if the modern time higher education ‘ideology’ exists to help freeze the present social structure and perpetuate the current distribution of incomes. This is done by exaggerating the role of wealth, thus helping the wealthy families to retain the prerogative. It is like higher education supporting the pursuit of an inherent rentiers’ position in the social structure.

Like the ‘undead’ banks

Isn’t it the same with the banks, the ones which are ‘too big to fail’. This brave new economic reality freezes the structure of the banking business sector, at least where it matters. Given that business names which control 70% to 80% of the financial market ‘cannot die’, this reality neutralises the dynamism of capitalism itself. Being a share holder of an ‘undead’ institution, it’s like securing a perpetual position in the earthly heaven, for your offspring for many generations to come.

It is exactly as in the case of the exuberantly expensive higher education, where the new ‘cost sharing’ ideology, tries to neutralise the role played by grades and knowledge competition in university entrance. All this new brave ideology in banking and academia tends to freeze the current income distribution, favouring the same wealthy families in perpetuity.

If this is the case, our world runs the danger of becoming a Pharaonic unchangeable structure, exorcising change in the distribution of wealth and not supporting other scientific research than that which can solidify the existing status quo in everything. Then the question comes freely, is humanity heading to another Middle Ages?

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

A Monday to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy; will there be catharsis or more fear?

The world’s largest bus system is starting to go electric

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

GSMA Announces Final Event Lineup for Highly Anticipated 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

“Two Pack” approved: Is democracy chased away from Brussels?

Turning Europe into a giant wind farm could power the entire world

Here’s what happened when one Guatemalan town went to war on plastic waste

How blockchain can cut the cost of new medicine

Will the EU be condemned by the International Criminal Court for violating migrants’ human rights?

In South Sudan, mothers teaching daughters ‘safer’ ways to survive rape

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

Dual Food Quality: Commission releases study assessing differences in the composition of EU food products

‘No justification’ for attacks against civilians, UN envoy says on mounting cross-border violence in Gaza

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

Easing ‘classroom crisis’ in Côte d’Ivoire, brick by (plastic) brick

Four things Turkey did for business in the G20

FROM THE FIELD: Watering the parched farmland of São Tomé and Príncipe

EU finally agrees on target for 40% greenhouse emission cuts ahead of Paris climate talks

EU Commission draws the wrong conclusions

More than half of world’s refugee children ‘do not get an education’, warns UNHCR

Alice in Colombia

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

Abu Dhabi is investing $250 million in tech start-ups

“The Sea is vast as it admits all rivers”, Ambassador Yang Yanyi of the Chinese Mission to EU gives her farewell address in Brussels

Who gains when the US and China fight over trade?

US-North Korea summit in Singapore ‘a promising development’ says Guterres

We need to measure innovation better. Here’s how

The mental health of our society

UN condemns ‘unspeakable’ attack that leaves scores dead in central Mali

Youth unemployment: think out of the box

Zuckerberg preaches that Artificial Intelligence will protect Data Privacy in Facebook whereas Verhofstadt demands the big European state to take charge

Libya: Attack on foreign ministry, an attack on all Libyans, stresses UN envoy

Ukraine-EU deal sees the light but there’s no defeat for Russia

On International Day, UN stands in solidarity with some 20 detained staff

To flourish in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to rethink these 3 things

Here are four steps SMEs can take for long-term success

Indian cities are running out of water

Syria: WHO appeals for funding to sustain critical health care for millions trapped by conflict

UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon

No improvement in respect for EU values: MEPs cut support for Turkey by €70m

Why sustainable packaging is good for profits as well as the planet

UN cooperation with League of Arab States ‘pivotal’, UN chief tells Security Council

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

Cédric in India

Commission: New proposal for centrally managed bank resolution

Climate change and health: a much needed multidisciplinary approach

Khashoggi case highlights ‘very worrying practice’ of overseas abductions, says UN expert

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

Victims of terrorism remembered

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Trump denies climate change existence while Paris Agreement is not fully supported by G20 ahead of COP24

EU-US resume trade negotiations under the spell of NSA surveillance

To recruit younger people, you have to understand them. Here’s a guide

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: There is a new draft agreement on the negotiating table

Medical students, climate change and health: an unorthodox combination

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

Apple® logo (copyright: Apple)

Apple takes further step into music: EU Regulators formally approve its planned Shazam acquisition

Half the population of Yemen at risk of famine: UN emergency relief chief

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s