Why are schools cutting funding to humanities in favor of STEM?


From the New York Times article "A Rising Call to Promote STEM Education and Cut Liberal Arts Funding": "“We are not good at predicting what jobs are going to be required in five years and 10 years down the road,” said Debra Humphreys, a senior vice president at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She worries that underfunding the humanities will not only undermine educational quality but be bad economic policy. “You run a huge risk when you say you are going to divert money from this major to that major.”

Research by the association shows that employers are not as focused on individual majors as they are on the kind of broad-based analytic, communications and problem-solving skills that a humanities education specializes in, Ms. Humphreys said.

The question of whether to reward colleges for turning out STEM graduates or for higher job placement rates has generated a lot of debate in Tennessee, where all of the state’s higher education funding is tied to various performance measures, said Russ Deaton, the interim executive director of Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission.

“I’m not sure I trust myself to decide which degree programs or which fields deserve that premium and what that premium should be,” Mr. Deaton said.

“A lot of the feedback we get from employers is not only about the necessity of technical skills, but the soft skills as well — the ability to think creatively, to work in groups, things that you traditionally get in the liberal arts,” he said. “It’s not as simple as STEM is valued and worthy of incentives and everything else is not.”"

Read the full article here.