Is There A Return On Investment In Higher Education?


Higher education demands a high level investment of time and money in return for higher earnings and improved skills. Measuring value in higher education, relative to costs, is important to make an informed decision about whether and what to study.
Due to the high cost of higher education, some prefer to skip it altogether, start from the bottom of the chain and progress through experience. Some prefer to get an early start in a career and invest in higher education later on, after saving up to avoid hefty student loans. All these alternatives give a good reason to evaluate the return on investment of higher education.

Contributing Factors

The return on investment on higher education depends on a few contributing factors:

Cost of higher education​

The cost of higher education largely depends on factors such as the number of years taken to complete the course, the type of course (diploma, advanced diploma, degree, masters etc.), where it is studied and the likelihood of completion. We cannot conclude that a higher cost will yield a higher return. The cost of funding not only includes the sticker price, but also cost of borrowing. Students can now minimise the cost of higher education through exploring different study modes such as online learning, progression routes and part time courses.

Economical conditions

The job market is an important determinant of the size of the return. Unstable period of economic recession hinder the opportunity to secure a good job and progress as desired. College education builds a skill set. The ability to put that skill set into use and gain a considerable return depends on the economic infrastructure.
To maximise earning potential, one must select a course in a field in demand, that That doesn’t mean that the fit between personal interest/ strengths and the course selected should be ignored. For example, if you are interested in Maths, you don’t necessarily need to major in it. Instead, you could major in an area that is math-centric, such as actuarial science, computer science, or economics.

Time taken to complete the course​

Higher education is now offered in many forms through many mediums. Courses range from online to part-time to fast track. These options have emerged to make higher education more affordable and tolerable. The return on investment on a fast-track degree maybe higher than that of a traditional four-year degree as it’s less expensive and provides quicker access to generating revenue.
One can make use of accelerator diplomas or progression courses to speed up study time without compromising on the quality of the education received.

In Conclusion...

Although higher education pays off for many, the exact returns for an individual are highly uncertain and evolve over time. For most, an investment in higher education yields a substantial economic and personal return, but this investment may not pan out for some students. By understanding the factors that contribute to lower returns, one can make a better decision in selecting which course to study, when to study and whether to study.

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