In my last submission, I presented information about the most and least employable undergraduate college “majors.” Chemistry and nursing were two of the five majors that had the lowest unemployment rates, at approximately 5%. This week, an article in The Wall Street Journal highlights a practice that appears to be highly counter-intuitive to the previous information. Some colleges and universities are engaging in an economic practice that appears to de-motivate students from choosing these and other science and math courses as their major course of study.
“Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Kevin M. Stange from the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy analyzed 50 universities that had instituted higher fees for their nursing, engineering and business majors between 1990 and 2008. Mr. Stange found that the effects of implementing differential tuition vary among groups of students and areas of study.” Consequently, charging higher tuition for these subjects had a detrimental effect on the graduation rates in these areas. He found that within three years of instituting this policy, the degrees in these subjects declined. Mr. Stange concludes, “Price does appear to be a policy lever through which state governments can alter the field composition of the workforce they are training with the public higher education system.”
This country needs more scientists and engineers! De-motivating students from pursuing degrees in these subjects is not only discriminatory, but borders on the unethical! Rather than penalizing science and math students, universities should be incentivizing pursuit of the STEM majors to insure that we have a highly skilled workforce in these careers, which are crucial to the continued development of this nation.