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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let the Diploma Mills Be

Harvey Keh in his latest Manila Times column advices the government to close down low-quality nursing schools. I disagree. Harvey tells of the story of Edward, a minimum wage earner, who enrolled in a well-advertised nursing college only to fail the Nursing licensure examinations twice, ending up unemployed and unable to help his family, who invested heavily in him.

I see the problem that Harvey is citing, but I do not think his solution is commensurate to the situation at hand. If the main problem is that people are misled to enroll in "diploma mills", then the appropriate solution is to provide more accurate information for these "Edwards" to make better choices. Or at least to make sure all the information nursing schools provide are correct.

Believe it or not, some people, even with full information, are willing to pay to go to low quality schools. It's the same with cars: some people are willing to pay for used and low quality cars. Because of this, the market for low quality things should be kept open. Otherwise, all that will be left are high quality institutions at high unaffordable prices, inasmuch as all that will be left are high quality cars whose prices will be pushed upwards, to continue the analogy. That's just how supply and demand work. But not everyone can afford to go to an Ateneo or La Salle. Not everyone would even want to. In this scenario, more would not get to go to school.

But because I think that low education is still better than no education, I am skeptical of Harvey's advice.

Let the diploma mills be.

*Note that it's not even clear whether students are failing out because the schools are poor or because the schools simply attract lower quality students, but that's a totally different argument.

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