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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Even Florida Knows That It's Stupid to Incentivize STEM Degrees by Making Them More Expensive

Posted by on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 12:03 PM

For all the talk about how we need to graduate more STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), there's a growing movement in Olympia to actually make these studies more expensive. Some lawmakers, like Senate "Majority" Leader Rodney Tom, want to grant our public universities the authority to set "differential tuition" pricing, charging more for more expensive degrees like engineering:

Tom called that idea a win-win solution... "Most people understand that these are more expensive programs," Tom said of degrees such as engineering. And even if the price went up "it's still a heck of a value."

Uh-huh. So we want to incentive students to pursue STEM degrees by charging more for them? That just sounds stupid. So stupid, that even Florida—arguably the stupidest state in the union—can see through the illogic:

A task force created by Gov. Rick Scott has suggested lowering tuition for students majoring in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math as a result of growing costs in education across Florida’s state universities and a poor economy.

That's right, Florida wants to incentivize STEM degrees by charging less for them, not more. Go figure.

Personally, I'm opposed to differential tuition for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that it's kinda antithetical to the whole notion of a universitas magistrorum et scholarium. As a history major, I availed myself of a couple engineering classes simply because I found them interesting, and I would hope that engineering students might want to learn a little history in the service of getting a broader liberal arts education. The traditional university model makes this sort of interdisciplinary study possible.

But if producing more STEM degrees really is as crucial to our economic future as everyone says it is, stupid Florida seems to be choosing the smarter strategy.


Comments (9) RSS

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Pope Peabrain 11
We had a good system for a hundred years before Tim Eyman's and Republican's greed started destroying it.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 16, 2013 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Dis-incentivize the word wanted here? ... But then, I was a math major so maybe I have that wrong.
Posted by david on January 15, 2013 at 2:47 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 8
Michigan already does this. Take that for what it's worth.
Posted by TheMisanthrope on January 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
Looking For a Better Read 7
As someone with an engineering degree who has been out of work for nine months, I'm intrigued by this idea that an engineering degree is a "heck of a value." But then I am reminded that my line of work (public infrastructure) requires functional government, as I observe dunderheads like Tom and the assholios in DC.
Posted by Looking For a Better Read on January 15, 2013 at 1:40 PM · Report this
delirian 6
There are far more scholarships for STEM than there are for other studies, so I'm not particularly worried about them. The real reason people don't study STEM is because it is harder and it hasn't been very accepting of women. STEM programs actively weed out students, in some cases expecting only 25% of freshmen STEM majors to graduate with a STEM degree. The first two years are absolutely brutal with large class sizes, inaccessible professors, curved grading (which is helpful when the average score is a 45%), and courses that only have the purpose of preparing you for future courses. More accessible professors, smaller class sizes, and an environment that is more accepting to women will probably be far more helpful in graduating more STEM majors than any financial incentive. And accepting the fact that a STEM degree probably should take 5 years instead of 4 might also help.
Posted by delirian on January 15, 2013 at 1:06 PM · Report this
I can't wait to donate to Tom's primary opponent, assuming Tom is still calling himself a Democrat by then.
Posted by cracked on January 15, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 3
Rodney Tom: Stupider than a Florida Republican.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on January 15, 2013 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 2
Engineering degrees are already far more expensive than most degrees, because it's very difficult to finish in 4 years.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 1
Lots of talk about increasing STEM in WA, but not a lot of actual increased positions.

At least Florida does what it says.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM · Report this

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