Friday, September 19, 2008

Belgium is making a mistake (education)

School starts Monday, we had the introduction /slash/ first chance to pick up books and rosters today, as well as a speech about the introduction of educational credits ... learning credits they're called.

If you're just in it for the guns -what the hell are you doing *here*- you might want to skip todays post. I think education is a great way to further society, so it concerns me, and what I've learned today is upsetting.

So the fedgov is trying to get more bang for their buck when pumping money in the higher education system. They want people to get into school, enjoy a subsidized education under high speed low drag conditions before hopping into the job market without looking back and becoming yet another high earning taxpayer, paying enough taxes to continue to support subsidized education, the boomers retirement, healthcare for the masses and welfare for the unfortunate.

Starting this year, each student who enrolls in one of Belgiums many fine colleges or universities will be allotted 140 "learning credits" (LC). Enrollment in a course requires a certain amount of LC's. For example, my course in chemistry would have cost me 6 points, which are refunded if you pass the course. The first 60 points you earn back are doubled, so you can end with 200 points max if you successfully complete a 60 point program.

Of course, if you fail, nothing gets refunded, and you just lost your learning credit rating. This is intended to prevent people from enrolling in a class without the sincere intention of seeing ot to the end.
Also, when you succesfully complete a masters education, you LOSE 140 points, just like that! In an effort to force academics out of the academy, the government will now cripple their credit rating.

If you do not have the adequate amount of points to enroll in a course, you'll be required to pay a higher enrollment fee. The government doesn't subsidize any courses you can't put on your own credit, but they also prohibit colleges and universities from asking more than twice the enrollmetn fee, even though the real cost of a course can be five times the subsidised rate! This will result in institutions refusing applicants.

Now, I'm going to my senior year, and everybody who's already enrolled is also just given 140 points, so this doesn't really apply to me ... thank god. I bended around the university for a year you know ... touristing is what they call it. While I did earn multiple academic credits, I didn't take the thing serious. I learned a LOT, I enjoyed myself and I grew as a person, I could! Education was not expensive, I had my parents to provide me with a home and food and clothes and whatnot ... I did fine, and now I'm doing GREAT in a collega that I *am* taking serious.

So when we were geting this explaination about the new situation, I turned to a university buddy of mine (yes, plenty of folk from the university ended up in the same college as me) and said: thank god they're only doing this now. Everybody else next to me agreed.
Said buddy tried and failed his freshman year in the university twice. Not for a lack of dedication or intelligence, it just took him that long to figure out that that wasn't what was right for him, he blazed through this colleges courses at the same speed as me.

Under the current system, he would have been out over a hundred points, I would be at 90-something. He might not be here, and I wouldn't be nearly as confortable.
Don't tell me it's a hard life and school is about work ok! If there's ever going to be any time for me to relax and enjoy life, it's now, and my parents live in a country with a 45% tax pressure rate to make that possible!

Yeh, that's the price you pay for socialized healthcare, subsidized education and whatnot, 45% of what you "earn". That's what I'm looking at for roughly fifty years, so don't tell me I can't take these years of MY life to myself.

I believe this new policy will turn some people away from higher education, it will degrade the academic level of my home country and all I can do is sit here, rant about it and think to myself: thank god I already had my year of fun ... sometimes I disgust myself.

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