Can we afford universities?

Students take 14 years to pay back their student loans according to this Financial Post article, and that is after the tax-payer has paid for the larget part of the tuition fees. How efficient are universities at delivering their knowledge? If students were given the opportunity to acquire their degree by being tested on what they knew and could do, and if they were encouraged to acquire their knowledge wherever and however they wanted, how many would choose to take on 14 years of debt? I would certainly explore other ways of acquiring the necessary knowledge. 


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