A bad education idea
I write both as a citizen and a long time advocate of public higher education as well as one who has spent most of my working life as an advocate on behalf of college and university faculty and staff. I read in today’s Times Argus that the VSC Board of Trustees is considering differential tuition by major based on the dubious assumption that some programs are more “costly” than others. If you allow me the privilege of allocating instructional costs and academic and institutional support costs (these cost categories come from the Department of Education’s Integrated Post Secondary Educational Data Systems) by academic program or major, I can produce any result or conclusion you desire. It is a foolish and useless enterprise as any knowledgeable higher education budget analyst can demonstrate.
We need to remind ourselves that the first and primary purpose of higher education is to produce an educated citizenry that is the foundation of a well functioning democracy. Next, we want to educate our young people not only for current jobs but give them the academic and critical skills so they can be responsive to changes in the economy and career opportunities. Neither of these goals is aided in way by the differential tuition structured proposed.
I call upon all who are committed to a quality public higher education system in Vermont to ensure that this bad idea finds its way to the appropriate landfill.
Stephen L. Finner, Ph.D.
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