Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So first down in Florida the flagship university dumps their computer science program -- because who needs that anymore? -- and over in Texas, the Lone Star College (which, while we're on it fellas, whoa, coolest "rebranding" move ever -- on MARS) has decided to charge students different tuition rates depending on what majors and classes they are enrolled in.

...this year, standard tuition at the system is $200 for a three-credit course, but students [for instance] pay $212 to study dental hygiene and $206 for computer science, according to a differential fee chart.

Lone Star is in the first of three years of steady ratcheting up of differential tuition, meaning that if a course costs 30 percent more than the baseline, students now pay 10 percent more for that course, with 10 percent hikes coming in each of the next two years.

My bet? They're counting on students being too confused by the rules to understand how deeply they're being screwed.

And here's just one of the many problems I see with this little plan: suppose a student changes majors halfway through her degree plan, from a high-cost major to a lower-cost major. Do you refund the difference in tuition?

Or suppose a major that was high cost -- one that is supposed to lead to a job that makes a lot of money, like computer science -- suddenly crashes. Now you can't get jobs in computer science, even though everyone promised, ten years ago, it was the job of the future? Do we refund the premium we charged all those students?

And, by the way, are we paying the professors who are teaching all these high-cost majors more? I have little doubt that we are paying the tenured professors more -- certainly business and engineering professors probably make more than English and anthropology professors. But are we paying (for example) adjunct professors more? I know we don't at my university; though the same may not be true at the Lone Star College.

But that may be a feature, of course, not a bug. No one in administration and no one at the state level (so far as I can tell) actually has any interest in helping students or professors, never mind improving education at any level.

Update: See this.

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