A task force convened by Florida Governor Rick Scott has recommended changes in tuition subsidies according to job market demand:
Tuition would be lower for students pursuing degrees most needed for Florida’s job market, including ones in science, technology, engineering and math, collectively known as the STEM fields.
The committee is recommending no tuition increases for them in the next three years.
But to pay for that, students in fields such as psychology, political science, anthropology, and performing arts could pay more because they have fewer job prospects in the state.
“The purpose would not be to exterminate programs or keep students from pursuing them. There will always be a need for them,” said Dale Brill, who chairs the task force. “But you better really want to do it, because you may have to pay more.”
The task force has the right idea but the right way to target subsidies is not to the job market per se (let alone Florida’s job market), wages already reflect job market needs. Subsidies instead should be targeted to fields where education has the greatest positive spillovers, benefits that spill over wages and flow to the public at large. Overall, this likely means subsidizing the STEM fields more than anthropology which is why the taskforce has the right idea. If the task force wants to explain the idea, however, they should make it clear that the goal is to focus subsidies on those fields where education most benefits the taxpayer.