STEM Learning Systems Needed More Than Ever
When the Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, suggested last month that students majoring in French literature should not receive state funding for their college education, he joined a growing number of elected officials who want to nudge students away from the humanities and toward more job-friendly subjects like electrical engineering.
Frustrated by soaring tuition costs, crushing student loan debt and a lack of skilled workers, particularly in science and technology, more and more states have adopted the idea of rewarding public colleges and universities for churning out students educated in fields seen as important to the economy.
When it comes to dividing the pot of money devoted to higher education, at least 15 states offer some type of bonus or premium for certain high-demand degrees, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“There’s a deeper question of what public money should be used for,” said Anthony Carnevale, a Georgetown University professor who runs the Center on Education and the Workforce.
A graduate with a higher-earning degree could make up to $4 million more in lifetime earnings than other college graduates, Mr. Carnevale said. Most of the top earners in the liberal arts end up matching only the bottom earners in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as the STEM fields — and some will earn less than high school graduates who have vocational skills, like welders and mechanics.
A recent salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a nonprofit membership organization that connects campus career officers with business recruiters, found once again that new STEM graduates were expected to command the highest overall average salaries in 2016. New engineers, for example, are expected to earn nearly $65,000 a year.
-Patricia Cohen, New York Times