What’s your opinion?
Philosophy lovers, prepare to be outraged.
Down in Florida, a task force commissioned by Governor Rick Scott is putting the finishing touches on aproposal 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.
But Art History? Gender Studies? Classics? Sorry, but the fates are cruel. Unless a university could show that local companies were clamoring to hire humanities students, those undergrads would have to pay more for their diploma.
Charging tuition by major is one of several recommendations the task force will submit to lawmakers as part of a broad reform package for Florida’s university system. The hope appears to be that by keeping certain degrees cheaper than others, the state can lure students into fields where it needs more talent. It’s an interesting idea in the abstract, but if it ever makes it into law, the results could be messy….
Ensuring that taxpayers get the biggest bang for their buck is an admirable goal. So is encouraging students to think ahead about their careers. The question is whether staggering tuition among majors will actually accomplish either.
To believe that it will, you have to accept two notions: First, you need to take it on faith that the government is capable of divining which majors are going to be the most marketable year after year. Second, you need to believe that there are a large number of talented undergrads who could hack it in these subjects, but are choosing easier majors instead.
I’m not sure either of those assumptions are sound.