It sounds like the tertiary education minister and universities will come into conflict regarding funding, again. In this specific case, I think both sides are wrong/focusing a bit narrowly.
The tertiary education minister is saying the government should link funding to performance measures – including work placement. The philosophy guy that was asked disagreed, as they will get less funding (which is weird, as he goes on to say how employers value the skills from philosophy – so this is sort of a contradiction right – Dim Post was on this wave length as well).
In my opinion public funding of education should be based on the “external benefit” associated with said education.
When arguing against the governments suggestion I’d say, if someone can get a well paying job but there is no external benefit, why should the government fund these courses at a high level?
In a similar vein we can argue against the philosophy guy by saying there is nothing intrinsically “good” about having people running around doing a certain degree type in of itself. We need to sit down and say “what is the external benefit associated with this”. Once we know this we have the rationale to sort out funding.
I do not believe all courses should be funded equally. But I also don’t believe that courses should be funded on the basis of work placement. These conclusions come from my value judgments that:
- The external benefits of different courses differ,
- External benefits are not perfectly correlated with work placement.
Update: Eric Crampton discusses the policy here.
Update 2: Very different take on tertiary policy in the UK. I can see an argument for lowering the subsidy on education for jobs with a high private benefit and low social benefit (ability to pay and externality arguments). But what do they mean by a graduate tax? Do I get an additional tax on me if I head over there just because I’ve been to university?