Sun, 09 Dec 2012

To Steer Students to Jobs in Demand, Florida May Cut Costs for Select Majors

A singularly bad idea on a lot of different levels.

Exactly what role is the state university filling here? Have we reduced our institutions of higher learning to nothing more than taxpayer supported vocational schools for the benefit of corporate interests? I always thought the goal of education was, well, education. Silly of me, I suppose.

Furthermore, there are going to be several unexpected economic impacts from this. The professions they're talking about driving students towards with reduced tuition are already on the higher end of the pay scale - if you increase supply, what happens to the price? Or second thought, maybe that effect is not so unexpected...

But worst of all will be the subtle impact on quality of work. We already have too many people picking a career based on how much money they'll make, and this will only drive that trend. Would you rather have a doctor who's interested in medicine, or one who became a doctor because the state subsidized his tuition and "steered" him away from English Lit? Would you rather drive a car whose gas tank was designed by an engineer who really cared about physics, math and mechanical interactions, or one who engineers because he makes more money than he would doing community theater?

I can't count how many mediocre programmers I've run across over the years who only got into it because "software's where it's at", and "computer people make a lot of money". The irony here is that none of them ever got to where it really was, and none of them made very much money at it, either.

Now, looking for more value on the remaining dollars, Governor Scott and Republican lawmakers are prodding Florida’s 12 state universities to find ways to steer students toward majors that are in demand in the today’s job market.

(link) [New York Times]

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