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US student loan debt is ballooning at a dangerous rate. Total debt topped $1.5tn this year and studies suggest that nearly 40 per cent of borrowers are likely to default on their loans by 2023. But this is not the only bad news for the higher education sector in America, writes Rana Foroohar in her column.

Just as bad is that most US education is now disconnected from the needs of both students and the labour market, Rana notes. Rather than acquiring vocational skills that will equip them for the workplace, young people are increasingly pushed towards getting a qualification — usually in the form of a four-year college degree.

The solution, she suggests, is for government to work with businesses, talking to employers about what skills they need and putting money into programmes that foster those skills.

Wolfgang Münchau asks whether British Remainers can count on the EU to extend the Brexit deadline of March 29, 2019, with growing appetite for a second referendum.

Luigi Zingales argues Milton Friedman’s notion that a company’s only duty is to maximise value for shareholders is mistaken. Shareholder welfare, not value, should be the priority, he writes.

Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, warns that as world leaders meet in Paris to commemorate the first world war, governments and business must fight a growing threat from cyber weapons.

What you’ve been saying

In response to “Messy desks and benign neglect allow new ideas to grow”, Muppet says:

I had a boss back in the day. His desk was the size of a table tennis table, totally covered with nests of papers to the point where removing one sheet somewhere had a landslip effect several feet away. And yet if I went in and asked him for an item he could reach (dig) for it instantly (I had to help deal with the jenga effect).

There is a point when the Apple image fades: letter from Vicky Sakellson, Scarsdale, NY, US — Friday’s most read letter

You are right on when it comes to Apple. Not being a teenager or the wealthy parent of one, for more than a decade I bought iPhones, iMacs, MacBook Pros and desk devices because of their functionality for work and home and for what I perceived to be better quality, and an overall fun experience. No more. Unlike his predecessor Steve Jobs, who truly cared for the experience that these devices enabled, Mr Cook focuses on the bottom line. His strategy may keep the boat afloat for a while, but not for long. There comes a point where the image fades and smarter ideas take control. I for one started looking elsewhere.

In response to “How Britain can fix its creaking social care system”, Underminer says:

What annoys me is people who need care but reject the concept of means testing. I agree some sort of comprehensive, cross-subsidising, insurance based system is needed, but until this is introduced those that have means must pay: local authorities don’t have the cash.

Today’s opinion

No boom, no bust in US housing
Higher mortgage rates will not cause a repeat of the 2006-08 slump

Young Americans need to be taught skills, not handed credentials
Most education is now disconnected from the needs of students and the labour market

Lex: Mexican banks: fee fall
Investors take fright at a plan to scrap charges for basic services

Do not assume the EU will give the UK time to rerun Brexit vote
The bloc has good reasons not to extend the March 29 deadline for withdrawal

Public companies should prioritise shareholder welfare, not value
Most of us would sacrifice some money for our beliefs. So should the companies we own

Government and business must fight the cyber threat
The first world war showed that human institutions have to keep pace with technology

When sticking to the status quo is stupid
Inertia leads to maddening hospital pagers and pointless airport security questions

Small Talk — Companies: Aim tadpoles told to get their house in order
Accounting watchdog loses patience with small companies over their book-keeping

Businesses must speak out on a second Brexit referendum
Uncertainty about the future means voters must have the option to remain in the EU

FT View

The FT View: A salutary Brexit warning from the serious Mr Johnson
A UK deal to leave the EU must be judged clearheadedly on its merits

The FT View: Earth’s natural resources risk being squandered
Long-term economic growth depends on protecting the planet better

The Big Read

The Big Read: Ping An’s hedge against future risks
The world’s largest insurer, carved out of Chinese state entities, has bet on fintech and AI as the way for it to continue to grow. But will it work?

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