Engineering cost of UC courses (LAT, Oct. 14)
Re “Some majors at UC may cost more,” Oct. 12
This seems to be the most counterproductive thing that the UC or any other major college system could do in light of the shortage of engineers of all types coming out of U.S. universities.
Do we need more poli-sci or finance majors? I don't think so.
These are the very people who should be subsidizing engineering departments.
As the U.S. slips further toward the Third World, we seem suicidally determined to give away every advantage that we have created for ourselves.
The proposal to raise fees for select majors should serve as a clarion call to get UC students and Californians who care about education to demand that any increase in fees results in a commensurate percentage drop in salaries for UC trustees or employees making more than $150,000 a year.
On another note, during the space race, the U.S. government subsidized the tuitions for many engineers; now, when we need to build smarter cities to combat climate change, we're going to dissuade those same people we need to compete in the race for energy independence.
"Eating your children" is a phrase that describes the concept being considered by UC "leaders" as reported in your article.
How could any state attempt to additionally "tax" the very prospective graduates it desperately needs to maintain that state's ability to compete in the 21st century?
Hopefully, most of the UC Class of '09 will remain in California despite their trials enduring what passes for the once-vaunted California higher education system.
They -- and their peers in the California State University system -- are exactly what California needs to think its way out of this Great Depression 2.0 we find ourselves in.
It is rather arbitrary that engineering programs and business programs exist at all in what are otherwise liberal arts university programs -- programs designed to provide a universal education.
Those students who have chosen to focus on a course of study that deviates from the traditional approach by endeavoring to gain more "practical" or vocational or professional skills should be willing to pay what that education costs.
Why should those students who read used books and listen to lectures in old lecture halls, as I did when I was a comparative literature student at UC Berkeley a decade ago, have to pay as much as -- and thereby subsidize the education of -- students who use state-of-the-art lab equipment or take classes in brand-new buildings with professors who come from the corporate world and demand much higher salaries than their tweed-jacket-wearing counterparts in the humanities departments?
Although this policy might earn UC a few more dollars to cover its state-supported budget shortfall, it is shortsighted.
Upper-division classes in Cal State engineering programs are already under-enrolled because of the difficulty of the lower-division engineering curricula.
The governor's office projects a shortage of engineers in California over the next 10 years. Yet it is likely that more engineering students will change their majors to avoid the proposed fee penalty, so then fewer would graduate.
If engineering students earn more when they graduate than those in other majors, they deserve it for having completed the difficult curriculum. They will fill a well-documented need for engineers in the future.
To further discourage them -- by raising their fees beyond the draconian increases made thus far -- will be to the detriment of California's future needs for engineers.