The idea: lower tuition for college majors that deliver bigger economic benefit. Why stop there? Shut down the victims studies departments too.
Down in Florida, a task force commissioned by Governor Rick Scott is putting the finishing touches on a proposal that would allow the state's public universities to start charging undergraduates different tuition rates depending on their major. Students would get discounts for studying topics thought to be in high demand among Florida employers. Those would likely include science, technology, engineering, and math (aka, the STEM fields), among others.
The public benefits if someone becomes an engineer, earns a high salary, pays lots in taxes, and makes goods and services that improve the quality of life for the rest of us. The public does not benefit if someone does a victim studies major, becomes a social worker, and generates more costs for the welfare state than they pay in taxes.
Journalist Jordan Weissman tries to spin this Florida proposal as a bad idea. But get real: unemployment rate per degree tell us nothing about how much money and useful goods and services people are making.
In a January report, for instance, the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce found that journalism degree holders between the ages of 22 and 26 actually had a lower national unemployment rate than young mechanical engineers -- 7.7 percent versus 8.6 percent. Economics graduates had about the same rate as english literature BA's -- 9.1. percent versus 9.2 percent. And kids with computer science degrees were actually a bit behind their peers who studied communications -- 7.8 percent to 7.4 percent.
Computer software developers are doing work that raises productivity. We need a lot of scientific and technological progress just to maintain our current standards of living. People who do a victim studies major or art history or English do not train themselves to make needed scientific or technological advances. Society gets a much bigger return from people who study STEM subjects. To the extent that the taxpayers are made to pay for higher education their tax dollars should more to the majors that deliver the most benefit.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2012 November 11 10:23 AM|