A cliche states that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. The suggestion of free education is a noble policy that has more demerits than merits. A policy of free education creates at least three problems. These are; funding, moral hazards and limiting the roles of universities.
A policy of free education for all students creates a problem of funding for universities. This is especially true in the current economic climate. The government cannot afford to soley fund universities. Thus, free education creates more economic problems for the government. For instance, if a state like California adopts such a policy for California’s public universities, a substianial part of government revenue would go into funding universities leaving little room for the government to undertake other services.
Second, a policy of free education creates a moral hazard because students have no incentive to invest in their education. Individuals are more likely to commit to something that requires some sacrifice on their part. Free education demands no sacrifice. Factors such as loans and family sponsorship encourage a student to invest his education by learning because there is some one they are answerable to. However, if free education is provided to all students without any conditions, the policy would be abused. Some students may choose not to attend classes for example.
Third, a policy of free education limits the role of universities as citadels of knowledge especially in the area of research. Universities receive funds and grants to undertake resarch and development from the government and private sector. Howver, if free education is provided for all students at the tertiary level, research may be limited because funds received may likely go to overhead costs such as maintenance of infrastructure and salaries.
Nevertheless, the importance of education at all levels cannot be understated. The recommendation that free education should be provided for all students has a merit because education has positive consequences for a society. Holding all other factors constant, an educated society should be a prosperous and well developed one. Thus, a government may benefit from implementing a policy of free education at the tertiary level. This is because all things being equal, the students would contribute towards the development of the society. Thus, a policy of free education may be adopted for deserving students or on a needs basis with conditions such as having a certain GPA and public service attached to it.