Grad schools: Expensive education

I just can’t stop cursing our top grad schools; they are so unaffordable, especially for average income families.

Sarah Khan May 26, 2011
‘Profit-making machines! That’s what these educational institutions have become’, I keep shouting out, sometimes to my friends, at times in my head.

I just can’t stop cursing our top grad schools; they are so unaffordable, especially for the average income families. My frustration arises from the fact that our educational institutions have transformed into these lucrative profit-seeking businesses that leave ‘consumers’ (as they would call the ‘students’ in their business jargon) drained of their earnings and savings.

I finished my undergrad programme almost a year back and now I’m hunting for grad schools in Pakistan. After having made my parents go through the trauma of paying for my four-year bachelor’s programme at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums) – which cost my family more than Rs1.1 million - I cannot subject them to more misery by making them pay for a master’s degree from their meagre savings.

Hence, the onus of my education is on me. After having done some research on the masters’ programmes offered by local universities, I don’t think I will be able to afford the good ones, at least not in the near future. Lums costs around Rs1.2 million just for two years; if I don’t have lands in Sindh, or if my father is not some big shot corporate sell-out, there is no way I can afford it right now.

Yes, I am told that both Lums and the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) dedicate a major chunk of fee increases to aid programmes like the Sindh Talent Hunt Programme (IBA) and the National Outreach Programme (LUMS). I’m also given the argument that the exorbitant cost of education is necessary to attract quality professors, to invest in the infrastructure of the university, to add sports and other extracurricular activities etcetera to it. However, I will not buy this argument that supports the commercialisation of education, since I am also fully aware that these prestigious universities get millions in donations from corporations.

And although I don’t want the government to completely take over (since the standard of education in the university is sure to fall if that happens), I still propose the government should subsidise higher education costs more often to facilitate students.
Sarah Khan A sub-editor on the sport pages of The Express Tribune
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Kay | 12 years ago | Reply Okay, I see many people recommending Fullbright here. But fullbright is only valid for US universities. What if one, out of personal choice, does not want to leave the country? Further, for supporters of the LUMS NOP or IBA NTHP initiatives, I agree with the author that making 90-95% students pay twice as much as what they are being provided for only to make sure that 5-10% of the students in an institute get to study absolutley free of cost is simply not fair. What if there is a deserving student who does not qualify for NOP/NTHP standards, but cannot afford to pay in full either? Partial aid is EXTREMELY difficult (and I speak from experience) from places like LUMS and IBA. During the time I studied from IBA, they did offer a 50% merit scholarship to half their undergraduate students. Now, even that policy does not exist any more. To add to it, their full fee has also increased plentifold. Yes, we see them investing heavily in their infrastructure, faculty, etc...but shouldn't all of that be funded by government and foreign aid? IBA remains, to date, a semi-private institution, the governor of Sindh being its patron. Where are the Ministry of Education's funds? As for LUMS, all I can say is that I could not study there despite being offered the admission, simply because my family could not afford to pay their full fee, and my financial aid application requesting only partial aid/loan was rejected without any justified explanation from the financial aid committee.
Khan | 12 years ago | Reply Honestly, writing blogs on this won't help at all. The government doesn't and shouldn't make economic policies after reading a couple of blogs, no matter how good the argument.
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