Should it cost more for a degree in history than the sciences? A preliminary proposal from a task force, commissioned by Florida Governor Rick Scott offers a resounding “yes.” If their proposal goes into effect, it would allow public universities to charge undergraduates differing tuition rates depending on their major. The proposal offers to freeze tuition rates for majors in “specific high-skill, high demand (market determined strategic demand) degree programs,” in an effort to lure such students into the state. Meanwhile, for fields viewed as having less value—history among them—tuition would rise.
In reaction to the proposal, a committee of faculty in the University of Florida’s history department drafted a petition challenging some of the assumptions built into the proposal. As the panel’s proposal indicates, the notion of differential tuitions is under consideration in other parts of the country, as well. Members should consider the issues raised in the department’s petition, and carefully weigh how this kind of thinking might affect history and the humanities more generally in the future.