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A UBC Okanagan professor is sounding the alarm when it comes to students having to borrow money in order to obtain higher education institutions.
Assist. Prof. Christopher Martin’s research focuses on educational equality and social justice and has concluded that borrowing money unfairly narrows a student’s choice while in school. Martin recently took his concerns to London, England where he proposed that higher education should be viewed as an essential service, and therefore be free for all.
“An entire generation of liberal democratic citizens is now burdened with worrying levels of debt,” said Martin. “Debt-financed higher education puts an unreasonable burden on citizens, restricting the kind of life they can pursue.”
Martin was part of a debate in London, England where educators discussed whether western democracies have an obligation to better fund post-secondary education. The debate was attended by political economists, philosophers, educators and students currently burdened with student debt.
The professor argues that high levels of student debt are incompatible with the basic aim of higher education, which is to provide students with the knowledge and understanding they need to feel successful in life.
“Higher education should be available to all because it is necessary to live a good life and move society forward,” says Martin. “It is unjust because students who are well off don’t face the same kinds of constraints around educational choices as someone who borrows money in order to go to school.”
Among those who graduated in 2009/10, the average student debt included $14,900 for college students, $26,000 for bachelor and master’s students and $41,000 for doctorate students at the time of graduation
Martin’s views were recently published in IMPACT: Philosophical Perspectives on Education Policy.
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