Higher education is internationally acclaimed. For an individual higher education usually brings better salary and better employability compared to a person with lower education. Higher education is also socially valued. (Mc Mahon, 2017)
In his book Higher learning, Greater good Walter McMahon (2017) has observed international research on higher education and its benefits. His findings show that higher education brings better health, longer life and activity in the society.
Let us take a look at private and social benefits of higher education in Finland in light of McMahons findings.
According to statistics some 42 percent of an age group acquire a university degree in Finland. Education is free of charge for Finnish citizens and members of the European Union countries. Income differences between social groups are relatively small internationally compared. There are differences in salary if a person is working in the public or private sector and depending on which position the person holds. Also, age has impacts on the salary. Higher education brings better salary and better employability than lower education also in Finland. (Statistics Finland, 2021).
Education enhances societal activity
In his book McMahon writes, that higher education motivates individuals towards societal activity. One way to assess societal activity is to observe voting rates in parliament elections.
The latest Finnish parliament elections were in the year 2019. The voting rate in those elections was 67 percent. Among citizens who had a higher education master degree the voting rate was 91percent. (Statistics Finland, 2019). Reports also support the statement that higher education has effects on societal activity (Lahtinen, 2000). This result is important for the development of democracy in a society.
Education affects life expectancy
Mc Mahon mentions in his book, that individuals with higher education are healthier and live longer compared to those with lower education. Estimating the impact of education only on life expectancy and health, is definitely not easy as aspects like knowledge, values and environmental conditions also have an influence (State of Health in EU, 2019).
In addition, current statistics about education and health does not exist. In the year 2016 there was an OECD and European Commission inquiry (State of health in EU, 2019) about health and time of living. According to this inquiry, the average life expectancy for 30-year old men in Finland with a basic education was 76 years, while it was 82 years for men with a higher education. The difference was smaller in women; 82 years and 85 years.
The aim is to increase accessibility of higher education
Education and learning are important for the development of society and economy. Human capital is necessary for solving problems and producing new innovations. (Asplund & Maliranta, 2006)
However, education is also important and beneficial for every individual, as it enhances both the possibilities for a better life and the appreciation for society. That is why it is important to estimate how we enroll students for higher education, and how we develop higher education to bring better good for students with different societal backgrounds.
There are many under-represented groups in higher education in Finland. Gender, socioeconomic background and ethnic background have impact on access to higher education. The Ministry of Education and Culture (2020) has carried out a study to improve access to higher education. All higher education institutions should take steps to increase the accessibility of higher education.
- Asplund, Aira and Maliranta, Mika. 2006. Koulutuksen taloudelliset vaikutukset. Sitran raportteja 60. Helsinki.
- Lahtinen, Hannu. 2020. Yhteiskuntaluokka elää ja voi paremmin kuin hyvin äänestämisen vedenjakajana, keskeinen jakolinja siirtynyt äänestyskopin sisältä äänestyspaikan kynnykselle. Politiikka 2020, 62:3
- Mc Mahon, Walter W. 2017; Higher learning Greater good. The private & social Benefits of Higher Education. The John Hopkins university press, Baltimore.
- Ministry of education. 2020. Accessibility plan for higher education.
- OECD, European commission. 2019. State of Health in the EU. Finland. Country profile 2019.
- Statistics Finland. 2021. Income distribution statistics.
- Statistics Finland. 2019. Voting percentage statistics.