The decision to virtually eliminate public funding for university teaching in England appears to imply that the benefits of studying for a degree are almost entirely private.
But a campaign calling for recognition of the public value of higher study is gathering momentum, with academics from across the globe challenging the fundamental shift in university funding.
At the Universities and their Regional Impacts: Making a Difference to the Economy and Society conference in Edinburgh last week, Walter W. McMahon, a US economist who has put a monetary value on the wider social benefits of higher education (see table below), warned the UK against the “worrisome” move.
Professor McMahon, author of Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private and Social Benefits of Higher Education (2009), has studied the “private non-market benefits” for individuals of having degrees, including better personal health and improved cognitive development in their children, alongside the “social non-market benefits”, such as lower spending on prisons and greater political stability.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.