Roger H. Moors and Justin Beresford have recently published a new paper on Social Finance and Human Capital: the case for social investment in higher education. The paper presents an interesting argument, namely, that higher education offers the opportunity for private investment and hence that human capital can be viably classed as an investible proposition.
This is a new model of education. Making the process of investment in human capital a social finance initiative, which might offer tax incentives for pension fund investment, whilst reducing state spending on H.E. The model could offer real wage increases over time, enhancing the fiscal strength of generations in the future.
“The markets for both education and retirement planning are characterised by market failure and hence are dependent on state intervention. However, an ageing population and a commitment to make university the norm for most young people have led the state to withdraw wholesale funding.
This paper discusses the potential for social capital to be used as a funding mechanism for university tuition. A solution is outlined in which investor’s pension contributions are used to fund university tuition. Graduates pay a higher marginal rate of tax over their working lives and contributions are drawn down by retirees from these repayments. Wage growth over time, motived by induced investment in human capital, means that each successive generation is able to recoup more than it put in.
The external benefits outlined allow the facilitating institution to be classified as a social enterprise and hence investment is motived by tax incentives as well as the promise of high private returns”.
This is a timely paper. With some £9 billion spent on higher education in England, student debt and the future shape of university finances all currently in debate. It has been mooted that universities might, for instance, buy the student loan debt of their own students. Much criticism has been engendered, however, as some suggest this will lead the institutions to only take on low risk students from wealthy backgrounds. Further promoting social divide and a non-inclusive higher education process, as they reap the later financial benefits of students taking up highly paid careers as their lives unfold.
The Moors/Beresford thesis holds that benefits can be accrued from the creation of a ‘savings pension pot’, which could be used to fund university tuition fees. The model for a fully funded scheme sees investor savings used to invest in university tuition fees, rather than being invested in financial market instruments.
The graduating student will repay their tuition fees by accepting a higher rate of marginal income tax over a fixed number of years. The Moors/Beresford multiplier would kick in if the ‘…rate of growth of participating students earnings continuously outgrows interest rates’, leading to a continuously rising scale of skill and economic productivity to foster more growth for future generations.
Read the paper, join the debate, support a new model of education for future generations.
About the authors of this proposition:
Roger Moors is CEO at SEEM (Supporting Social Business) based in Nottingham. Researching the development of new models and applications for ‘social finance’ across a range of social and environmental issues.
Justin Beresford is an economic adviser at the Malagasy Ministry of Finance Department for Budget Programming and Coordination. He was an assistant economist at the UK Ministry of Justice (Analytical Services Directorate).