With the country’s unemployment rate as high as it is, it’s hard to find employment, and paying college students are starting to ask more questions. Indebted college students are now asking for colleges to not only post accurate graduate employment statistics, but to redesign the system. Meanwhile, politicians are trying to take a different route — eliminating funding toward degrees unlikely to produce jobs.
Last week, students in Florida came together to protest Gov. Rick Scott’s series of attacks on higher education. On top of raising the tuition prices of all state universities by 15 percent and cutting scholarship funding, the governor plans to cut even more funding toward liberal arts programs. Scott said his state shouldn’t put more money into degrees that are unlikely to produce more jobs.
Many students were offended when the governor said Florida didn’t need any more anthropologists. Ironically, Gov. Scott is paying for his daughter’s anthropology degree. So. I guess only rich people who can afford it should study liberal arts?
Recent concerns regarding the value of education and changes that should take place to better fit the needs of today’s world are tangible. After graduating from Vanderbuilt University Law School, not finding employment and speaking with many discouraged graduates in his field, Kyle McEntree started a non-profit called Law School Transparency.
The nonprofit’s goal is to pressure law schools to post accurate information regarding graduate’s job prospects. Lawsuits are now being filed and a number of schools are facing accusations of either posting misleading or false information.
Though universities should be held accountable for the information they post, it’s obviously not entirely their fault graduates aren’t getting hired. Regarding law schools, it was inevitable that graduating students would struggle in finding jobs. From 2008 to 2011, the legal field lost an estimated 50,000 jobs. Not only that, but entry level jobs, ideal for freshly graduated lawyers, are being outsourced or replaced by technology.
With pressure from politicians and students alike, many in higher education are likely to start caving. But, toward what? Robert B. Smith, a lawyer, said on behalf of higher education colleges that many institutions fear what is happening to law schools will spread to other branches of education.
While most in higher education may believe the purpose of what they do is to help students grow intellectually, more students and parents are starting to see education as a product. That product should be refreshed in order to fit more employers’ needs. No, it’s not a university’s responsibility to get everyone a job, but when institutions are stuck in the past, students get cheated out of the product they paid for.
The goal shouldn’t be to eliminate fields like literature, philosophy and anthropology because they aren’t creating any jobs. Instead, colleges should teach these subjects in a way that is more relevant to the world so students can have more job opportunities.
There has to be balance and it’s going to take everyone’s cooperation. It shouldn’t be a question of personal accountability on behalf of students versus providing customer satisfaction on behalf of schools.
Though students should do their research and be more realistic about the opportunities available to them institutions also have the obligation to provide a product worth something. The education people were getting 20 or 30 years ago is not worth as much, but is costing more. It’s the responsibility of those in higher education to at least admit it’s time for some change.
With this in mind, politicians shouldn’t pressure institutions to get rid of liberal arts degrees, but instead reform these programs.