Education in the E.U.


Lance Brownfield

Europe’s education system is much more interconnected than ours here in America despite barriers like language and international borders.

If you’re a student from another state, or if you’ve considered attending a university far off, then you know about out-of-state tuition. While some colleges like Henderson will waive the higher price for nearby states, residents from most states have to pay $320 per credit hour as opposed to the $240 for in-state students.


Take UCLA for example. In-state tuition is $13,240, while out-of-state comes in at a whopping $42,994. That’s over triple the cost. Even with a higher cost, California residents can save money by attending college in states like Arkansas. Do we have to accept this practice, though?


While there are some agreements between states in different regions, these come with restrictions. For students in the south, their desired program must not be offered in their home state to qualify for in-state prices. Even so, it can be difficult to attend a university across state lines without paying extra.


So, why can a student from Italy study in France for the same price as a French citizen? How come a person from Hungary can attend a university in Belgium and pay the same exact bill as a local?


These are different countries and yet, their education system is more interconnected than the 50 states of our one nation. In countries like The Netherlands, you can sign up for classes at any university in the nation on one single website. Imagine if the U.S. had a website to sign up for classes no matter where you live.
Citizens of the European Union (EU) are free to travel across what is known as the “Schengen Area.” The 27 nations that make up the union have many agreements that make life, trade and travel much easier on the continent. One such agreement is that an EU citizen studying in another EU country “cannot be required to pay higher course fees.”


I believe that America should get with the program. European nations regularly place at the top of the list of most educated countries. In countries like Finland and Norway, it is normal for high schoolers to graduate knowing four or five languages. In many European countries, students have the option to get more specific knowledge of their career field before the age of 18. Instead of taking another math course, they could learn a trade if they know what they want to do with their life.


It is sad that a student in Nebraska might have to worry about how to pay for their degree because studying marine biology requires a school by the coast. Whereas our European counterparts need only to worry about learning the local language of the school of their choice.


Instead of eeking out every bit of profit, we should be more concerned with what goes on in the classroom. The world needs innovation. America needs to compete globally.


Many Americans have sought out their education at institutions in Europe because they are cheaper and comparable to the schools back home. At select universities in Germany, students from around the world are able to pursue a higher education for free. There are certain requirements, however, like reaching the B-2 level of German.


America could do so much better with our education. We do not have to learn a second language to move across North America. That means that we could focus on learning the material and not the culture shock. If linguistics is your desired field, moving to the Southwest, Maine or Louisiana could be an option for in-depth studies without going abroad.


Instead of student loan debt, the students of this country could graduate with the knowledge to enter their career field and a greater respect for the 50 states. Arkansas, like most states, sees about 90% enrollment from out-of-state.


Why don’t we incentivize more students seeking to fly the nest to come to our state? Arkansas could lead the way by getting rid of out-of-state tuition altogether. The education you get isn’t any better just because you pay more for it.


The reason that out-of-state tuition costs so much more is because the students do not pay taxes to the state that the university is located. One way to look at it is that in-state students have a lower bill because they’ve been paying taxes that pay for the schools the entire time they’ve been a resident of the state. So, in a way it’s like the out-of-state student is making up for taxes they never paid to a state they never lived in.


To me this seems unfair. Shouldn’t they get a break on the taxes in their home state since they aren’t attending the universities there? Well, they don’t and they certainly don’t get a refund for all they’ve paid in.


This issue borders on taxation without representation. If the student only goes back home during the summers, they still pay a full year’s worth of taxes to their home state. In Europe, education is seen as a right and not a privilege. The citizens pay the taxes to keep the institutions open for everyone, not just the people who live nearby.


I suggest we start thinking about this prospect. As the world and our country gets smaller and smaller, we need to consider becoming more connected and stronger in our education. We’re being left behind in many ways by Europe’s education system.


Traveling and seeing America is an important part of many young people’s educational journey. We need to foster this growth and exploration.