How Free Higher Education Can Drive Global Innovation and Diversity

There is a debate among higher education experts on whether or not higher education should be free. Some say that education is a privilege, and others say that education is a basic human right. However, in this article, we will talk about how the possibility of free higher education can drive global innovation and diversity. Free higher education can attract students from other countries, but it’s not always the most ideal situation. In fact,  according to International Higher Ed Finance, “more than 40 countries offer free or nearly free post-secondary education to domestic students.”

Is higher education actually free?

But, is free higher education actually “free?” To explain further, one example of providing “free” higher education is raising higher taxes on the individuals in a particular country, like the US, to offset the tuition costs. Also, there is the idea of the “third party payment system” where someone else is paying for the “free education.” For example, according to Forbes, “third-party payments can decrease academic quality.” Students who receive higher education for free might not be as accountable to the university they are attending. However, there is a need for free education, and there are some benefits as well.

Many countries offer free education for the citizens of their country, including Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, and Mexico. They are providing free education for their citizens, which has helped their enrollments greatly. Finland is one of those countries that provide free education.  For example, according to the University of Eastern Finland, Finland sees education as a fundamental right, which allows them to view education in an efficient way. If everyone is allowed education, then this can lead to more diversity among the university population.

A leading country that offers free education for students, not only for German students but international students as well, is Germany. Here’s why. One reason Germany offers free education for all students is that they have a large population of 60 and over. This way, younger people can come to Germany, and according to Inside Higher Ed News, about half of the international students that attend college in Germany plan to stay and work in Germany.

In turn, this helps their economy, as well as its diversity. This helps drive global innovation and diversity. Germany is a model example for countries to follow if they want to be more progressive in the educational process. Another country that has many international students is Mexico, where about 7,600 international students study, however; education is not free there.

Concluding thoughts

These examples show that countries, like the U.S., can develop even more beneficial relationships with other countries by offering free, or almost free, education. There is much global innovation involved with allowing international students into different countries, such as having a diverse student population and, potentially, a better economy.  There is still room for improvement, but it’s a good start.


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