Pay-what-you-want: a radical solution to the high costs of studying
Following the example of pay-what-you-want restaurants and museums, a British university wants to allow students to set their own tuition fees. Similar initiatives to battle the rising costs of studying are emerging elsewhere. In Tilburg, too.
Rent, tuition, books and living costs: studying is expensive. With student loan debts rising to alarming levels, some institutions are looking for new ways to offer higher education. In the United Kingdom, the Co-Operative College has come up with a radical solution to the rising costs of studying: why not let students help determine what they should pay, as well as what their teachers should earn?
“Students will understand from day one that they have to be responsible for their own education”
The Co-Operative College is an educational charity that has been promoting co-operative principles for nearly 100 years. Dissatisfied with the ‘marketization’ of higher education, the foundation plans to develop an alternative, co-operative university that engages students in decision-making. The Co-Operative College has been inspired by the Mondragon University in Spain, where students are involved in setting their own tuition fees. “The idea is to enable everyone who wants to take part in our educational model to do so, regardless of their economic situation”, the Mondragon University website reads.
Eduardo Ramos Arroyo, who is drawing up a report for the Co-Coperative College, believes a co-operative university offers a good alternative to traditional universities. “Students will understand from day one that they have to be responsible for their own education”, he told The Guardian. “That they are not just buying a degree.”
“We don’t want aspiring students to stay away because of their financial situation”
Pay-what-you-want studying is the latest example of new educational models that offer an alternative to the traditional system. In Great-Britain, institutions like the Free University Brighton, the Ragged University in Edinburgh and the Social Science Centre offer free education, taught by volunteers.
Similar initiatives are emerging in Tilburg, too. Comprehensive school De Rooi Pannen has recently decided to relieve its students of study costs. On Thursday, the school announced that it will cover the costs of books, a tablet, excursions and trips for all 8,000 of its students. “The yearly costs are between 2 and 2,5 million euros, but we believe it’s worth it”, president Tiny Pheninckx told Dutch newspaper Brabants Dagblad. “If you really want to give kids the chance they deserve, and you’re able to, then you have to do so. We don’t want aspiring students to stay away because of their financial situation at home.”