University education still matters, especially for generational economic mobility


Formal education is critical for generational mobility, allowing young people to transcend engrained perceptions to not just learn, but demonstrate their capabilities by recognised paths.

Jose Luis Alvarado, dean of the Fordham Graduate School of Education, has written an excellent counter-narrative to those saying that tertiary education doesn’t matter any more, om the deep inequity of the anti-college movement. He shares how he was told at school he shouldn’t aspire to going to college. Others didn’t see his potential, quite possibly because of his family background.

I have long pointed to the decreasing relevance of higher education.

Employers are finding real-world capabilities and peer esteem are better indicators of performance than exam-assessed degrees.

Educational programs are often out of date while they are taught, let alone when students graduate.

Young entrepreneurs can arguably learn more by doing than by attending any less-than-excellent educational course.

Yet it’s absolutely true that these views come from a position of privilege.

The quality of tertiary education absolutely needs to improve and be more relevant to a rapidly changing world.

But its very existence offers pathways to anyone to achieve anything, not just entrepreneurial, but in every facet of society.

Which leaves us with the challenge of ensuring that everyone, regardless of wealth or background, has clear access to quality tertiary education, and full encouragement to pursue that if they want to.

That is at the heart of a fair society.