Who Should Pay for Higher Education? An Educational Aims Perspective

Authored by: Christopher Martin

Handbook of Philosophy of Education

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032000053
eBook ISBN: 9781003172246
Adobe ISBN:


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The question “who should pay for higher education?” brings to bear important considerations of distributive fairness. By “distributive fairness” we mean, broadly, claims about the fair sharing of benefits and burdens arising from a given cooperative scheme. This chapter argues that aims of education play a significant role in how we should weight the benefits and burdens of higher education understood as a cooperative scheme. It demonstrates this by contrasting how we reason about who should pay for higher education viewed through two different aims: upward social mobility and personal autonomy. Finally, it provides an overview of the conditions that must obtain in order for higher education to be distributively fair if we were to conceive of it as a right and where the public pays the full cost. Here too, it argues, educational aims play a crucial role.

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