Thursday, November 29, 2012

differential tuition, not the fairest

fyi: tumblr is still where it's at with the FERG and fuck yeah radical economixxx pages

In other news....

The University of Florida has been recommended to charge differential tuition rates to students depending on major. Majors that lead to lucrative job offers, like those in the STEM category, receive a discount or subsidy on the cost. Meanwhile, majors that tend to earn less on the job market, like the humanities, pay a higher sum.

Here's a few reasons why this is problematic:

-alternative economic intuition has lead other university to do the complete opposite, charge more for STEM majors since those classes are more expensive to run and the return on investment for the student is higher

-charging relatively higher tuition for non-STEM majors in a sense discriminates against those who are less likely to choose a science or engineering degree, i.e. women (and perhaps other groups too)

-this continues to reinforce male privilege; women often internalize their economic position well before choosing a college major, so would be more likely to study to become a child psychologist or an english teacher than a mechanical engineer, an economic incentive (like a subsidy) likely won't reverse this identity.

-similarly, stereotype threat exists, also not the most responsive to economic incentives.

-further, hedging economic returns to the state (in the form of future income tax from students) by offering this discount is problematic, the market is chaotic and who says we have real reason to believe STEM majors will continue enjoying a high ROI once economic tides shift?

Solution? When we needed more mechanical and agricultural research we did it once before in the form of land grant colleges. If we want to enjoy the social returns of having more STEM majors (across genders, ethnic groups, and identifications), then maybe free public higher education, across all majors and fields of research is a more accessible and fair idea.