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Education The Almighty Buck

Higher Tuition For an Engineering Degree 531

Posted by kdawson
from the does-this-mean-music-majors-are-free dept.
i_like_spam writes "The NYTimes is running a story about a new trend in tuition charges at public universities throughout the country. Differential pricing schemes are being implemented, whereby majors in engineering and business pay higher tuition rates than majors in arts and humanities. Last year, for instance, engineering majors at the University of Nebraska starting paying an extra $40 per credit hour. One argument in support of differential pricing is that professors in engineering and business are more expensive than in other fields. Officials at schools that are implementing differential pricing are aware of some of the downsides. A dean at Iowa State said he 'thought society was no longer looking at higher education as a common good but rather as a way for individuals to increase their earning power.' And a University of Kansas provost said, 'Where we have gone astray culturally is that we have focused almost exclusively on starting salary as an indicator of... the value of the particular major.'"
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Higher Tuition For an Engineering Degree

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  • by SEE (7681) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:01PM (#20033595) Homepage
    Fewer engineers and more people with degrees in Art History!


    • Decisions like this will be self perpetuating. As the difference in cost grows between degree paths, the makeup of those groups will change dramatically.

    • by aneeshm (862723) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:29PM (#20034419)
      ... that at least you have a free-market system that works. I'm sure that, given time, this problem will resolve itself, one way or another. The market corrects itself. I just wish we had something like this here.

      Think, for a moment, of what we have to face. The top engineering examination is the IIT Joint Entrance Examination, which is the only way to gain entry into the Indian Institutes of Technology. Every year, around 1,50,000 people appear for the IIT entrance examination, straight out of high school. That was the number last time. This time, I think it's much higher. Around 4500 get selected. Everyone else to told to go screw themselves. That means that only three percent of people who appear get in.

      The next big examination is the AIEEE - the All India Engineering Entrance Examination. In this system, there are a number of colleges which choose to give admission based on performance in this exam. Here, around 8,50,000 people appeared last year. Out of that, only the top 50,000 are called for "counseling" - they are the only ones who have a chance at getting a place in a college. Out of those, only the ones getting into the top five thousand get the first tier colleges and universities. That works out to about 0.588% of all people who appear. But it usually works out for people with ranks up to 25,000 - they get into a good enough place. That's 2.94% of the total who appear.

      The next level are the state examinations. Through them, you can get admitted into the colleges affiliated with the local state governments. In states with good colleges, this works out for the top five to ten percent of people in the state.

      If you don't get in through any of these channels, then your only option is to pay huge amounts of money to a college of your choice so that you may be included in the "discretionary" admissions that they allow.

      It's not difficult to understand, economically - the government controls who and what constitutes a university and a college. It also fixes the fees of all of them. Further, it also controls admission criterion - who will get in, what the admission policies will be, and every other little detail. Now, by forcing colleges to charge students less than what it costs them to run the place, and making the deficit out of its own pocket, along with imposing the hassle of bureaucracy, it provides a very effective dis-incentive to people to start new places, new centres of higher learning, all the while making sure that the few colleges and universities who have a name are the ones who are most profitable (because they can charge arbitrary amounts for the "discretionary" admissions, and the ones with the best reputation charge the most).

      What this, in effect, leads to is that there is a ridiculous amount of competition for a very small number of seats, and that the vast, vast majority (above 70%) of the nation's students are getting an education which leaves them unemployable in any meaningful way.

      It also has further, unintended, and catastrophic consequences, in terms of the allocation of resources, many of which are very scarce in a country like India (forgive me if I sound like Sowell here, I'm reading his book right now).

      Because of this unnatural competition (in a market system, such an artificial shortage and scarcity would not have happened, and therefore I call in unnatural), people try to find ways to game the system.

      These tests follow a pattern - the AIEEE, for instance, will consist of three sections, one devoted each to Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics. The questions in each section will be multiple-choice. Now, given the general pattern, it is possible for a coaching institute, which trains students to take a specific test, to do a statistical analysis of every paper since the test's inception, and guess what will be asked next. The rich can, naturally, afford the best coaching, and thus overwhelmingly dominate the pan-Indian tests.

      I remember that during my days in suc
      • by SorryTomato (944650) on Monday July 30, 2007 @04:34AM (#20039817)

        1. Rich people can ace exams by studying at exam coaching institutes? If you throw out competitive entrance examinations and let the market decide who studies then only the ultra-rich will be able to study (as you say the demand is high; implying in a free market the cost will be astronomical). At least the current system favors the smart-and-rich and the smart-and-determined poor rather than the merely rich which your system would end up with.

        2. We already have too many engineering and medical colleges. A good three quarter of the people who graduate from there range from the merely mediocre to the catastrophically incompetent. Too many people in India treat engineering and medical profession like high school - minimal stuff that every tom, dick and harry should graduate by default. Little if any attention is paid aptitude, interest and capability of the individual. While we can not control who has the aptitude and real interest, we can surely select the capable to a certain measure through centrally administered examinations.

        3. Demand for "professional degree" is so vast that a lassie-fair economy will take many decades to correct itself. This is if it ever corrects itself because the reason why so many people take up these degrees is not merely economic but also strongly social.

        There are many draw backs to the current system of education administration in India. But I am yet to hear of a better system suited to our social mores, economic condition and the one true constant of life in India - total corruption and endemic nepotism as a accepted way of life.

    • by rben (542324) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:42PM (#20035019) Homepage
      Of course, this discussion missed the whole point, that now it will be even harder for someone who is poor to get a degree in Engineering or Business. Of course, that's the whole point, right? Keep the good stuff for the rich and make sure the poor stay in their place.

      If ever there was some area of our world that shouldn't be run as a business, it's Education. Providing a good education to our citizens is our best and surest way to insure that our country has a viable economic future.

      People complain about the high cost of Health Care. Look at what it costs to become a doctor. The schools that train Doctors and Lawyers long ago realized they could cash in on the fact that these fields had more earning power, and they've been limiting who has access to that earning power through steep tuitions ever since.

      If we keep on this course that seems to be guided by the principle that anything that can be sold should be sold to the highest bidder, we'll lose everything our ancestors fought to preserve in creating this nation.

      Commerce has it's place, but this isn't it. Free market capitalism is good at distributing goods and services, but not at providing equitable education available to all citizens.
    • by hackus (159037) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @10:30PM (#20037561) Homepage
      I gave a talk at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh on the "so called" engineering shortage "propaganda" a vast majority of the CEO's and colleges today put out today. Colleges I can understand, because with a larger student enrollment they can get more state dollars. So, they can and often do say whatever they want to, to get more state funding.

      What CEO's say, is downright sinister in my opinion and nothing short of pure GREED.

      I gave a couple of examples about the trends in off shoring of jobs, but the real question isn't, "How many engineers do we need." I think the markets are willing to manage their own demand.

      Besides, American CEO's are not interested in that question, they are more interested in a similar question. Certainly not that one though.

      So I explained to my audience, that when you hear these CEO's in front of congress preaching they need more off shore help because there is a "shortage" of qualified engineers, keep in mind they are not asking your congressional reps the full "question".

      Certainly I can assure you all hear, when they mean "qualified" they do not mean academic credentials.

      What they really mean is, there is not enough fully qualified engineers willing to work for $5 bucks and hour in software, industrial design and architecture, and they cannot find them anywhere in the United States.

      Furthermore, I think the educational system in general in this country is way over priced as is, for what you get anyway.

      You are practically asking a person to become a financial serf unless of course your wealthy enough to actually go to a University, get through in 4 years (i.e. because you don't have to work and go to school at the same time.).

      Particularly if you are in an engineering program which is very very challenging in the number of hours you have to dedicate yourself in.

      People are screwed because if it takes you about 6 years to complete a engineering degree, your going to endure a much larger increase in educational expenses, at a much lower living wage.

      This can make FINISHING school a VERY hard challenge for a vast majority of students out there, who thought the hardest part of getting into a University institution was just a SAT score, or good grades in high school.

      Many are finding, that PALES in comparison to actually STAYING in school and finishing it while working 2-3 jobs while paying for yearly expenses.

      Which in the end, you have to ask yourself how much depth you put into that education with a C+ average was really worth it after 6 years, because you could barely find enough time to study while maintaining 2 jobs and going to school.

      A what? 40K investment for a C+ average? What depth were you actually able to study the material?

      Since grades can be a job entrance factor, todays young people are REALLY squeezed between a rock and hard place.

      I see many very bright people never given the chance to get that A simply because it is impossible to sustain a 18 hour work day and compete with "the silver spoon" kids which all they have to do is go to school, and basically do their home work.

      I drew a picture of "Johnny" and "Rick" both computer science students. "Johnny" I would say was actually a more intelligent kid than "Rick". But Johnny consistently got lower grades, and had a few late assignments which cost him grade points. "Johnny" had to use the computer lab for most of his work because he had no computer in his dorm. The computers in the computer lab though were not kept up well, slow and very difficult to get on during normal hours. So labs had waiting lists and you had to sign up for computer use.

      "Rick" however, not only had a computer, but a laser printer and internet access in his private apartment the old man bought him. Write a compiler? No problem, in a nice quiet apartment with no noisy neighbors, Rick worked deep into the night all through the semester, finishing the project on time, no problem.

      "Johnny" had to sleep outs
  • by pavon (30274) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:04PM (#20033623)
    The first thing that I thought of when read this story earlier, was why should engineering and science students pay more if their departments are the ones bringing in the most money from research grants from the government and industry. It seems ass-backwards to me, unless this is being done by schools without any research program to speak of. If that is the case I think they threaten to drive themselves to obsoletion. Most of these sorts of schools already provide a lower quality of education in those fields, and now they want to raise their prices as well. Good luck with that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nephilium (684559)

      But what about the athletes, and the giant alumni donations? Wouldn't that make underwater basket weaving, history of golf, competitive bowling, and the analysis of Dr. Seuss cheaper classes?

      It's times like this I remember why I decided to skip college.

      Nephilium

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @09:30PM (#20037147) Homepage
      I'm from Canada and the Engineering students (of which I was one) paid way more for tuition than arts students. Do you know why? Because even though they can make a lot of money off research, it still costs a lot for all the equipments. Most students in arts programs require a professor, and a room in which to put the students. Engineering and science requires labs, computers, professors who could be making better money in the private sector, and many other thinks that aren't necessary for a student in other programs. I remember one of my professors telling me about a study, where they said a history student cost around $300 for a single course, while and engineer could could cost 10 times that much. So, in reality, the history students were subsidizing the engineering students. We should be so lucky that our tuition is as low as it is.
  • It's understandable in a way. It costs a lot to set up the labs and facilities needed for some specialized skills. Engineering tends to have a lot of those types of courses.

    Having someone teach a class that's just chalk board and talking is a lot cheaper. especially if you can have a slave... I mean grad student, teach it.
    • That's what the budgets are for. Engineering dept. doesn't pay for the labs alone.
      All the money goes into one big pool and gets distributed.
      Labs already have fees attached to them to cover any supplies beyond what is considered nominal...
      • by starwed (735423)
        So what ends up happening is that all students pay the same, but some departments are much better funded than others. Strangely, the funding a department gets seems to be pretty well correlated with the earning potential of it's graduates in any case.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pavon (30274)
      Yeah, but at most schools that is taken care of by lab fees, which I am sure they are going to continue to charge after raising tuition rates. This seems more like raising prices just because they think they can get away with it.
    • My univerisity had a lab fee tacked onto my tuition for the quarters that I took chem, and I had a technology fee because I was a CS major. The tech fee was well spent - we always had a lab of really up to date Sun systems (with the older systems getting rotated into the other labs until they reached phase out) and several nice research labs (one of which housed our robo-cup competition work).
  • by backwardMechanic (959818) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:05PM (#20033631) Homepage
    Well, like it or not, a humanities degree is cheap compared to engineering or science. All that lab equipment (and space) costs money, not to mention the people who set it up and keep it running. I'm not saying I agree with differential pricing, I'm just pointing out the costs.
    • Yes, but there are already lab fees to cover those costs. Differential pricing on top of that isn't necessary, at least in terms of lab costs.
      • Not all engineering schools have lab fees. Mine does not, and we have differential pricing for our credit hours.
    • I agree completely as noted the costs for engineering and other sciences have high costs to maintain and keep current. Also being that so many student choose their major based on starting salaries and business tends, the instructors in those fields demand more money. So make sense to me that you want the high starting salary then your going to have to paid for the education to get it. Also higher fees for popular major will help offset costs of maintaining majors of lessor interest. Like it or not sch
    • Well, like it or not, a humanities degree is cheap compared to engineering or science. All that lab equipment (and space) costs money, not to mention the people who set it up and keep it running. I'm not saying I agree with differential pricing, I'm just pointing out the costs.

      While it's true all that lab equipment costs more, every class I've taken with a lab component had a lab fee as well as tuition students paid. If the lab fee isn't able to cover the costs of the equipment then raise the fees. Tha

    • by Mike1024 (184871)
      Well, like it or not, a humanities degree is cheap compared to engineering or science. All that lab equipment (and space) costs money, not to mention the people who set it up and keep it running.

      True, but surely an engineering department could more easily enter into partnerships with companies, make profit from patents/discoveries/spin-outs, and suchlike?

      Humanities departments, you'd think, would mostly get their research funding from the government, because they don't really have a useful product to sell.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:05PM (#20033635)
    Geez, I thought the USA is a capitalist country. This is normal in the rest of the world. The law of supply and demand you know - let the free market decide the pricing...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by epee1221 (873140)
      Haven't we been hearing a lot of complaints lately that there aren't enough students going into science and engineering?
      • by Slugster (635830) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:12PM (#20034261)

        Haven't we been hearing a lot of complaints lately that there aren't enough students going into science and engineering?
        This brings up an interesting question; does the degree cost have anything to do with the job capacity? In my mind, it doesn't.

        At the very time that US companies began offshoring IT work, the US was filled with people with IT degrees and experience. The "lack of qualified workers" seems to mostly been "a lack of masters-degree people who would work for associates-degree salaries".

        {....-Now that I think of it, the US university lobby should have been one heavily opposing the B1-B program. US kids are hardly encouraged to go into debt to get a degree knowing that they can always be easily replaced with a less-expensive offshore worker. What was their official position on the matter? Did they even have one?-....}

        With some professions it's fairly possible to get into them with a bit of luck and without any college--but for a few like medicine, law and engineering it's pretty-much not easily possible for an average person to do. But one of these jobs is not like the others: doctors and lawyers often need to appear in person to do their jobs; but engineering can be offshored as well.

        So who cares if US colleges raise the cost of engineering degrees, or if US students stop taking engineering majors? The same MBA's that offshored IT work are the same ones who will see nothing wrong with offshoring engineering when they find out it's cheaper that way as well. Is it a good idea for US kids to go into debt for school, to try to land a job that may not practically exist within a few years? The only ones losing money on this deal are the colleges.
        ~
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CraftyJack (1031736)
      You might be willing to trust the market to ensure that we will have enough technical professionals tomorrow, but I am not. We need engineers. I, for one, am not going to trust the same invisible hand that gave us pets.com to provide them.
    • This is normal in the rest of the world. The law of supply and demand you know - let the free market decide the pricing...

      No, the US isn't a capitalist country, it hasn't been one since the 1800s. The USA is nothing like what Alexis de Tocqueville [adti.net] saw when he tured the USA in the 1820s/30s, which inspired him the right the book "Democracy in America" [amazon.com] . Today the US is a corporate socialist nation.

      Falcon

  • This is already implemented at my university, SFU [students.sfu.ca]. You can see that the per-credit cost for Engineering is about $15 more than for other courses, although not as much as the $50 differential for business students. I personally don't really mind this as I noticed the quality of our laboratory increased once the increased fees were put in to place. We managed to replace a lot of outdated scopes and other equipment, and I'm sure the fees were at least partially to thank for that. I can see how an Engineering degree could cost more compared to, for example, a liberal arts degree. Liberal arts majors don't require access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics to get their education.

    I'm still at a loss to explain the difference in the cost of business credit hours, I guess they're just milking those people because they can...
    • In addition to the lab and staff fees (typically in engineering), there's also things like running the co-op office, setting up case studies and other services (specialized library). Most business schools have a lot of those costs too. And I know of a few business schools that package hardware/software into their tuition fees now as well.
      • And I know of a few business schools that package hardware/software into their tuition fees now as well.

        In the US more and more colleges and universities are requiring freshmen students to have a laptop, so give students one and include the price in the tuition.

        Falcon
    • We managed to replace a lot of outdated scopes and other equipment, and I'm sure the fees were at least partially to thank for that. I can see how an Engineering degree could cost more compared to, for example, a liberal arts degree. Liberal arts majors don't require access to tens of thousands of dollars worth of electronics to get their education.

      That's easy enough to deal with, instead of raising tuition raise the lab fee, if there is no fee for classes requiring lab then institute one. That way only

  • Uh huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:06PM (#20033645) Homepage
    "'thought society was no longer looking at higher education as a common good but rather as a way for individuals to increase their earning power.'"

    Because everyone majoring in "Communications" is fulfilling a lifelong dream and not just there for the degree.

    Pssh. Anybody with a library and curiosity can learn all the art history they want to, it's not particularly difficult, nor do you need to pay a college tuition to have a discussion about it.

    The real shame here is that people might be dissuaded from learning something they would have a much more difficult time learning on their own, due to the cost.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:08PM (#20033657) Homepage
    This is quite the wrong way around ... if there is a price difference it should favour the graduates that we need. In the UK that means more Medics, more engineers & scientists - so charge these students less.

    By charging less for less useful subjects such as history we will end up with a surfeit of people with the wrong degrees - people not suited to the jobs that we, as a country, need.

    This is where government intervention/financial_support is needed for the long term good of society -- I can't see it happening since the payoff is way beyond the next election.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm not sure that the government has the right to influence what students major in, nor do I believe that giving them this power would benefit our society.
    • This is quite the wrong way around ... if there is a price difference it should favour the graduates that we need. In the UK that means more Medics, more engineers & scientists - so charge these students less.
      So flood the market with lesser qualified people to drive wages down?
      If a student is choosing a major based on a difference of $50 a credit, you probably don't want them in those needed categories.
    • Changing the price per credit does not affect the enrollment cap. Major universities in the US already have 3-10 applicants for every available slot.

      http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2006-11-02- collegerates_x.htm [usatoday.com]

      • by xenocide2 (231786)
        I'm not sure that applications are a valid measurement of demand, at least as an absolute measure. For example, major students in the US already have 3-10 applications in available schools. Your implicit assumption that there should be a 1 to 1 correspondence between admissions and applications seems invalid.
    • by j-pimp (177072)

      This is where government intervention/financial_support is needed for the long term good of society -- I can't see it happening since the payoff is way beyond the next election.

      The government will not do this. This is what you need private charity for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NereusRen (811533)

      if there is a price difference it should favour the graduates that we need. In the UK that means more Medics, more engineers & scientists - so charge these students less.

      A system for favoring the jobs that are "needed" is already in place: they are in high demand, so they earn a higher wage once they graduate. The only difference between higher wage and lower tuition is timing, which brings me to my next point:

      This is where government intervention/financial_support is needed for the long term good of society -- I can't see it happening since the payoff is way beyond the next election.

      I assume by "financial support" you mean gifts and grants, but really all that is needed is a fluid loans market. If society really does need a certain type of job, it will be worth it for young people to borrow money to get that education, and people should be will

  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:13PM (#20033701) Journal
    We need to more fully subsidize those degrees in fields where we're starting to lose our edge.
    Think how many millions of engineers China will churn out this year. More than the total graduating class for all of the US, in every category, I'd guess.
    • by feyhunde (700477) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:09PM (#20034233)
      Except the very very best of china, that one in 10,000 engineer/scientist that will make a huge difference in the world, will come to the US for education.

      My own background in graduate school for physics had a program of many 80 grad students at a time, 10 to 20 of them born and raised in China. One of our professors, the one most cited in his field, had a similar background and a tendency to recruit other kids from China.

      None of the graduate students has any intention of returning to China. Ever. Most were marked at youth for their academic ability, and raised away from their parents in boarding schools. They don't have loyalty to China, nor a big family that roots them to China. The Married ones bring their wives/husbands with them (often having financial issues while in grad school).

      I've known some from western provinces that would be a 'Stan and loathe the government. I know others from the big cities that just want the money they can get here. So now the brain drain is very favorable for the US. So doom isn't going to happen in 10 years. But maybe in 20 or 30 when we stop being the target of the Brains looking for money.


  • A dean at Iowa State said he 'thought society was no longer looking at higher education as a common good but rather as a way for individuals to increase their earning power'.

    He actually thought otherwise? He actually thought that we'd spend a small fortune and 4 years of our lives, solely because U serves as brain food and not for some serving reason?

    How about this, Mr Dean: having the opportunity to shape young minds is an opportunity to cherish. In an of itself. Therefore you won't mind if we don'
  • Mr. Kushner said he thought society was no longer looking at higher education as a common good but rather as a way for individuals to increase their earning power.

    Kushner and his ilk are probably more upset that, the more that students choose engineering and business, the less they will choose humanities and social science majors that are nothing more than indoctrinations in leftist ideology and political correctness.
  • ...maybe they should pay up for it? Interesting quote in the article:

    In engineering programs, the additional money often goes toward costly laboratory equipment, because students and the companies that will employ them expect graduates to be able to go to work immediately using state of the art tools, said Mr. Lariviere of the University of Kansas.

    "In many instances," he said, "industry itself is demanding this."

    So if the industry demands students to work with state of the art equipment, surely they

    • How about I sign a contract prior to starting college that says that my employer will get at least x years of employment at a discounted rate if they pay for my education? It's like student loans, except without the crushing debt.

      • I don't know if it still happens, but in the UK when they introduced student loans a few companies offered to repay the loans of candidates when they took the job. Of course, in the UK student loans are over the order of $20K at the end of a bachelor's degree, which is somewhat less than the USA.
  • by Faizdog (243703) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:17PM (#20033753)
    That's already the case for graduate education at most universities, engineering credit hours cost more. Substantially more in many cases.

    However, that is a reflection of economic realities. School's have to be more competitive in hiring engineering faculty. Whereas for most humanities, most PhDs would like nothing more than an academic position at a university, that is simply not the case for Engineering faculty. School's not only have to compete with other education institutions, but industry as well, which can afford to pay PhDs a lot more. To a lesser extent, this also translates in the stipends a department pays engineering grad students, they get more.

    Also, an engineering education costs more in terms of support. Engineering labs, equipment, etc. all add on to the cost of the education.

    While I can appreciate the notion of "knowledge for knowledge's sake", which is infact how most universities started, that is not reality today. Not all disciplines are equal in economic terms. The barriers to entry into the arts and humanities are lower than the hard sciences/engineering. For proof of that, look in universities or the working world. How many people switch their majors from sciences/engineering to arts/humanities, and how many do vice-a-versa? Also, most of those who switch away from sci/eng do so because they are struggling in those fields.

    Even beyond college, you often hear of a former individual with a background in sci/eng transitioning into more "soft" areas, such as policy research, K-12 teaching, art, etc. But you almost never hear of a political science graduate becoming the lead tech on an engineering project. The only place where that transition does take place is in Comp Sci, and that's because the barrier to entry there is lower than other Engr fields. And I'm not even going to count the transition to IT, because IT is different from Comp Sci, and is not a Sci/Engr domain.

    • by jadavis (473492) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:48PM (#20034057)
      While I can appreciate the notion of "knowledge for knowledge's sake", which is infact how most universities started, that is not reality today. Not all disciplines are equal in economic terms.

      Universities are for academic education. Nowadays, universities -- especially in fields like Computer Science -- spend so much time focusing on the immediate economic value of the material that we can't honestly call it an academic institution any more. When professors start talking about "industry" and other similar terms, you know you're in vocational school.

      There's nothing wrong with vocational school, they are very useful. However, let's call it what it is. If you are spending more time learning a tool than the abstract concepts behind it, chances are you are in vocational school. The only reason we still call it an academic endeavor is because "vocational school" doesn't sound nearly as impressive.

      I think this distinction is important because we need both academic institutions and vocational institutions. But if our academic institutions are being infiltrated by vocational training, then we won't have any academic institutions left.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Londovir (705740)

      Even beyond college, you often hear of a former individual with a background in sci/eng transitioning into more "soft" areas, such as policy research, K-12 teaching, art, etc.

      Obviously you've never taught in a public high school. I'd never call that a "soft" area. I have a BS in Computer Science & a BA in Mathematics, and am currently teaching 3 Advanced Placement courses at a public high school. It's the most demanding employment I've ever had.

      I know that there are significantly more difficult employment positions in the world than K-12 teaching, but let me say this much - that sort of elitist view of "soft" education does nothing at all to improve the situation. It's ha

  • Don't worry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by eagl (86459)
    Don't worry about this... Market forces will balance it out. Universities compete for good students and students shop for the overall *best* university. If two universities offer good degree programs and one has a surcharge on the degree program they want, the students will go elsewhere.

    For a good student, there are plenty of good programs out there. As far as that goes, if $40 per course is too much extra, go to a military service academy where they'll pay you to attend and guarantee you a good paying
    • As far as that goes, if $40 per course is too much extra,

      It isn't $40 per course. It's $40 per *credit hour*. My university was on quarters. Most courses were 4 or 5 credit hours. That's another $160-200 extra per course
    • Market forces will likely balance it out by discouraging even more students from going into engineering thereby reducing the local IT workforce even more, thereby increasing the attractiveness of outsourcing and/or H1B employees.
  • Noone cares about your major anymore, as long as you can get the connections to get a job in investment banking. No other job really appeals to American college students anymore. But then with culture being all about the bling, what do you really expect of them?

    This may be biased, my sample set is only Stanford undergrads (I feel old), 3/4 of which would not consider any other job, because the pay is too low. The idea of having to work more then 5 years making a mil a year before they retire is completely a
    • Re:Too late. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Paulrothrock (685079) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:34PM (#20033911) Homepage Journal

      This may be biased, my sample set is only Stanford undergrads (I feel old), 3/4 of which would not consider any other job, because the pay is too low. The idea of having to work more then 5 years making a mil a year before they retire is completely absurd to them.

      It's not just those Stanford undergrads. I used to have kids from Franklin & Marshall college renting the house next door. I would often overhear them talking about not wanting to be "stuck" making $250,000/year for the next decade. (Meanwhile, I own the house next door on about $45,000/year.) One girl told me that she might go to law school, but is just hoping to meet a rich guy to marry.

      It might just be kids from expensive schools, but I've found this attitude in kids from my local high school, who are middle to upper middle class kids. I'm only 25, so why is there such a gap between me and these people who are only a couple years younger than I am?

      • Re:Too late. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:03PM (#20034175)
        The youngest generation is fucked, that's why.

        Seriously, there's a major entitlement problem with younger Americans these days. They seem to think they're entitled to being multimillionaires, but they're not willing to do the work necessary to achieve that.

        However, I do wonder how representative your sample set is. I'm a little older (graduated college in '97), but I was at a state university (Virginia Tech) and I don't remember meeting anyone with that kind of attitude. It might be something limited to the overpriced private schools.
  • by Saxophonist (937341) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:26PM (#20033825)

    Some of the differentials are enormous at the university I attend [umn.edu] (pdf link):

    • Resident tuition, Graduate School: $4,870/semester
    • Software engineering, first year (resident or non-resident): $6,510/semester
    • Management of Technology master's (resident or non-resident): $14,000/semester
    • Executive M.B.A. (resident or non-resident): $20,625/semester

    Thankfully, I have no aspirations to become management, and I just take classes in the CS department (I'm a doctoral student in music)...

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:26PM (#20033827)
    I think everybody in the USA should be a lawyer. That is probably the surest career path left in the USA.

    IT is being decimated with ubber-cheap offshore labor. Engineering, accounting, and other fields could also be killed by offshore labor. Healthcare could be socialized, or regulated until it totally sucks. What can't be offshored can be killed by H1Bs, or illegal immigrants.

    But, not law. Ever hear about massive layoffs of lawyers? Any lawyer, who is not completely incompetent, can probably count on a six-figure income, once he/she has a few years of experience. Lots of lawyers in the USA are millionaires. Aside from money, lawyers have all the power: Judges are lawyers, so are politicians, and so are lawyers. We live in a virtual "lawyerachracy."

    There is no way lawyers could have their jobs offshored - it requires too much local knowledge (i.e. what this judge will put up with, what that judge doesn't like). And there is no way there can be too many lawyers, because lawyers cause the very problems that lawyers are paid to solve.

    IMO: if you don't want to be a lawyer, be a professional litigant. In the future, everybody in the USA will "earn" their living by suing on another.
  • As usual the price has little to do with cost to the university, but rather how much you can charge and still get customers ( i.e students ). Thus it would appear that the market value of an engineering degree is higher ( surprise surprise ) and thus we shouldn't be surprised it is more expensive to obtain one. Heck, this is even true in countries where you don't have tuition fees. The grade requirements to get in to med school is usually high, thus you need to pay quite a price ( in terms of studying rathe
  • by Wansu (846) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#20033889)


    With dwindling opportunities for US citizens in engineering, flat wage growth and short career spans for those already in engineering, enrollments have dropped over the past 7 years at most engineering schools. Selectively charging more for engineering curricula is piling onto this trend.

    See Jobs Update: The Death of US Engineering [vdare.com]

  • Idiots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:33PM (#20033891)
    The absuridity of this is that they are charging based on major, not on course. (That's not to say I support the idea at all, but the way this is being done is just stupid.) That means that a student with an enginering major would pay more for taking the same course that a "liberal arts" student does (even though the school requires him to take a certain number of "liberal arts" courses.). And it completely ignores the concept of changing majors. The smart students will simply enter the school as art history majors and take lots of engineering courses as electives, and then later switch their major.

    Heck, this would even have a major bonus: when I was in school I know that one english "teacher" that I had deliberately lower the grades of engineering students )including myself) as opposed to BA majors (others may well have done this too, but I only am sure of it happening from one "teacher"). By entering as a BA canidate and then switching a student would be free of this type of grade discrimination, which I expect happens much more on the "arts" side of the university.

    I should also mention that I paid more than the art history majors, and that was many years ago. But it was sone in the form of "Lab Fees" for engineering courses, not based on what my major was.

    • Re:Idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bockelboy (824282) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @05:45PM (#20035059)
      I'm enrolled at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and those engineering fees SUCK.

      For example, the Computer Science and Engineering is 40% engineering, so every 3 hour class I take has a $150 fee attached to it. What if it is a 3 hour Computing Theory course? $150 extra. What if it is thesis hours? $150 extra. All because engineering courses "cost more". Even if, like thesis hours, there is no classroom.

      What's worse is that this is FEE, not additional tuition. So, graduate students can't get them paid by their scholarships. The all-tuition-paid scholarship doesn't quite mean the same thing at UNL if you have to pay $1000 PER SEMESTER in fees. The involved departments have a harder time attracting top quality talent because of this. They are quite literally focused on the short term cash gain rather than the long term effects on the college.

      There are other, indirect effects. Bio, chem, and physics students used to take computational courses to learn the basics of clustered computing. This resulted in long-lasting collaborations between these departments. Computational scientists worked out better algorithms for the physicists, and the physicists got better results. The grad students no longer take these classes, meaning that they are at a disadvantage - or just ignore the computational side of their subjects.

      It's lose-lose-lose for the students, professors, and departments involved. The university, however, makes a bit more money.

      (Not only do these fees specifically piss me off, they decided to "surprise" the students with them. I mean, the plans were put out for anyone to read. In a cellar. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.)
  • What I find surprising is that some professors still don't understand that Engineering is not Arts, and its goals and values are fundamentally different. An arts education is an abstract thing, a more classical education where you learn history and discuss concepts and ideas. When you graduate you have nothing tangible that you can use for any particular job but are expected to be intelligent enough to succeed at something if you work hard. An engineering education is meant to train you to think, but als
    • When you graduate you have nothing tangible that you can use for any particular job but are expected to be intelligent enough to succeed at something if you work hard.

      Yes, art is worthless [youtube.com]. Understanding art gives insights into understanding people, which can be useful in many business environments. An artist is better equipped to decide what makes a good interface or design for end users than an engineer.
      I agree that engineers are better equipped in general, because they are tasked with being problem sol

  • by rlp (11898) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:39PM (#20033959)
    American higher education costs are rapidly getting out of control. Prices have been going up far faster than inflation for years. Universities have no motivation to try to control costs. Given that many students are being forced to take on massive debt in order to attend college, it's not surprising that there's more focus on starting salaries. The more interesting question is at what point will Universities price themselves out of the market?
  • Since public universities aren't businesses they shouldn't be run like this, in fact they should be run exactly the opposite. One reason for the education system is to provide knowledgeable people into the labor market.

    Pricing for degrees should be based on how much society needs that degree holder.

    Since scientists are very useful to society their degrees should be as low cost as possible to encourage as many as possible to take that degree.

    Majors like english(non teaching) should be very expensive since th
  • Has anyone thought of the obvious? Maybe it is because there are more and more students trying to enter engineering programs? And the rise in engineering salaries has to do with the economy's increasing demand for engineers? And the engineer faculty's salaries is also due to large demand for engineering PhDs?

    So, maybe, just maybe the demand for engineering from industry is actually attracting more people to engineering? So maybe the market forces are at work!?

    Naw, couldn't be!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grishnakh (216268)
      No, it couldn't be, because a 30-second Google search will find you lots of reports that the enrollment in engineering programs has been dropping steadily for the past 7 years or more.

      Engineering faculty salaries are due to the fact that engineering PhDs can get high-paying jobs in industry, whereas liberal arts professors don't have any companies flashing money at them to lure them away.

      So no, unless you're living in a dreamland, whatever demand from industry there is isn't actually attracting more people
  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guacamole (24270) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @03:55PM (#20034113)
    1. If differential pricing becomes a common practice, I think it will be a blow to America in the long run. If anything, I think this country graduates too few engineers and scientists. We need more people who spend years in college learning real world skills, how to produce value. I am not dissing humanities and social sciences here. However, I do think that we have too many people in US colleges studying social sciences, such as political science, and humanities. Most of them end up taking vanilla, dead end administrative jobs that pay half of what an engineering or science graduate can make. (Of course. What did you expect? that's about what those studies are worth in real world). The biggest reason for this is America's mediocre system of secondary education that graduates hordes of students who barely know math and are afraid of pursuing majors involving any "hard" subjects from the beginning. Raising tuition for such majors will discourage people from getting into engineering even more.

    2. The problem with the runaway salaries of the business school professors was created by the business schools themselves. We know that business PhDs can get very good jobs outside of the academia but that's only a part of problem. The real problem is that the supply of business school professors is very tight. What would you expect when business schools at large research universities produce so few business PhDs? Big universities like Purdue, Michigan State, or University of Colorado at Boulder have business-related departments (such as finance or accounting) that employ dozens of professors, yet they admit about 2 doctoral student per year, and even less of those graduate 4-6 year down the road. In the end, they pay 130-140K to a fresh assistant professor. Compare this to the field of economics. Large universities admit 15-25 doctoral students of economics per year and usually at least a half of them finish the degree. The starting salary of an economics professor is about $85K.

  • by ornryactor (974225) on Sunday July 29, 2007 @04:31PM (#20034433)
    Fuck whoever wrote that as the tagline. I'm a music education major (at Iowa State, coincidentally) and we are the major with the highest workload required to graduate of any undergrad program in the entire university. We graduate with around 31 credits more than the next major down the line; about 2 semester's worth of classes. I'm going into my fifth year in the program and have never had a semester where I took fewer than 19 credits; 20 or 21 is much more common. I'm well aware of the fact that music majors get a rep for being an easy major, but that's because the people talking about it don't know their head from a hole in the ground.
  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:01AM (#20042861) Homepage
    The most qualified students in the fields that governments will reap the most tax revenue from and/or need for internal use should get the highest tuition subsidies. Less qualified students get less of a subsidy or prove themselves at a community college before attending a top-tier school.

    The trick is to predict that tax revenue with a reasonable degree of accuracy and to identify the most qualified students. The SAT was intended to identify students who weren't "connected" and would have been overlooked by the elite schools, but it produced results in conflict with the tribalist religion known as multiculturalism and I've yet to see a superior objective replacement.

    Then there's the problem of the bloated bureaucracies at most universities. There's no real free market pressure to attend to that. I'm not sure what to do here.

    The fiction that all students need a university education needs to end too. College has become the new high school, at least here in America. College degrees have become an atrociously expensive substitute for the IQ tests that companies used to be allowed to give, effectively screwing the people the do-gooders claimed to help. Most people would be better off learning on the job. The apprenticeship model is vastly underrated. It would help if the government education monopoly did a better job with the K-12 set. I'd break that monopoly with a voucher system but good luck getting that reform passed.
  • I'm surprized no one's posted the new tuition rates.

    Rates Per Credit Hour, Fall 2007, Based On Full Credit Load (12-18 Credit Hours)

    • $280 School of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy

    • $240 General PhD in Engineering or Sciences

    • $220 Engineering

    • $220 Business

    • $220 Computer Science

    • $200 General Math and Hard Sciences

    • $160 Professional Social Sciences (psychology, etc.)

    • $130 School of Social Work

    • $120 School of Forestry/Natural Resources

    • $100 Spanish

    • $90 Communications

    • $1200 Pole Dancing By The Airport

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