2007 July 30 Monday
Costs Of College Majors Diverge

State universities, faced with less state taxpayer support, are beginning to charge different tuition prices for different majors.

Starting this fall, juniors and seniors pursuing an undergraduate major in the business school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will pay $500 more each semester than classmates. The University of Nebraska last year began charging engineering students a $40 premium for each hour of class credit.

And Arizona State University this fall will phase in for upperclassmen in the journalism school a $250 per semester charge above the basic $2,411 tuition for in-state students.

Professors cost more in fields where the graduates get paid more.

Such moves are being driven by the high salaries commanded by professors in certain fields, the expense of specialized equipment and the difficulties of getting state legislatures to approve general tuition increases, university officials say.

Modest proposal: Record the lectures of a few highly paid professors and thereby drastically cut down the cost of delivering lectures by showing prerecorded lectures. Universities could approach graduate students and poor assistant professors and offer them big one-time fees in exchange for recording entire courses worth of lectures with unlimited distribution rights owned by the universities. Then universities could trade each other lectures series as a way to offer more courses and more experts giving their take on the same subjects.

Iowa State engineering students are going to feel an increasing pinch due to rising costs of engineering faculty.

Undergraduate juniors and seniors in the engineering school at Iowa State last year began paying about $500 more annually, he said, and the size of that additional payment is scheduled to rise by $500 a year for at least the next two years.

The use of prerecorded lectures will free up lots of professors to go out and work in the professions for which they are trained. By freeing up time of people whose time is highly valuable the video lectures will boost economic productivity and increase economic growth. The videos will also enable more people to get educated and to do so more conveniently, quickly, and cheaply.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 July 30 08:46 PM  Education

Bob Badour said at July 31, 2007 6:35 AM:

I wonder how many professors have Asperger's Syndrome? Aspies are often drawn to the profession because it is the only one that will allow them to lecture on the topic of their perseveration.

They might not have the social skills to get a job doing anything else. There are a couple of Fields Medalists who fall into this category.

I am not sure you will achieve the productivity increases you want. As a wise friend once had his online signature say: "Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences"

Stewart W. said at August 1, 2007 3:00 PM:

Do you suppose that this differential increase will apply to the many foreign students at America's universities, or only to the native student population? If we also assume that the "Dream Act" will exclude illegals from paying the higher rate, then the effect will be to further discourage American students from entering these lucrative fields, thus "requiring" more H1-B immigrants, whose existence in our job market already drives salaries down to the point that it is having an impact on our enrollment in high-value degree programs.

We will be reduced to churning out endless sociology and communications majors to fill the continuing demand for government worker drones.


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