Should people who study science and business pay less for college than people who focus on art and history? That may soon be the case at Florida’s state universities.
In tough economic times, Florida governor Rick Scott wants to steer college students toward careers that will pay off after graduation. There are more jobs available in Florida in the fields of business, engineering, healthcare, science and technology. So why not encourage students to focus on these “high-demand” subjects by charging less tuition for them?
“We assume students go to college because they want to pursue jobs,” Dale Brill told TFK. He is the head of a group of business people, educators and lawmakers who made the recommendation to the governor to keep tuition low for job-friendly areas of academic study, called majors. “We all share the goal of students getting jobs and being productive citizens. Some majors are more valuable than others.”
Supporters of the plan say it benefits students, the state and universities. More students will choose these “high-demand” majors and get jobs after graduation. The state will gain an educated workforce that is qualified to fill open jobs. Universities that can show that their graduates are getting jobs will qualify for more funding from the state.
But critics of the plan say it’s unfair to load humanities majors—those who study literature, philosophy, history and art—with debt while keeping tuition low for so-called “high-demand” majors in business and science. In fact, university professors wrote a letter to Governor Scott arguing that corporations have a need for humanities majors with “superior analytical, critical thinking and communication skills.” The letter also warns that if students majoring in history and other humanities subjects are forced to pay higher tuition, they may simply choose to attend universities in other states.
Still others argue that the plan sets students up for failure. Students should choose majors based on their interests, skills and talents, rather than on what jobs are available at any given time. Those who choose majors because they are interested in a particular field of study—whether it is engineering, art or literature—will be more successful and satisfied in their careers.
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