If Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin charge higher tuition for science and engineering majors, why should Florida charge less?

You know that the draft report of the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education has made you wonder about that.

The short answer is that Florida is not Illinois, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin (I’ll deal with Texas later).

Look at this plot of new bachelors’ degrees awarded in the natural sciences and engineering in 2009 per 1000 18-24 year-olds (from the 2012 NSF Science and Engineering Indicators):

Florida is well behind Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in this metric.  Young people in the latter three states perceive careers in these fields differently that students in Florida.  We have some catching up to do, and we need to do what we can to incentivize these career choices.

And yes, I’ve neglected to mention Texas.  Do you really want to make educational policy for Florida based on what they do in Texas?

And one more plot.  Florida has been talking about educating a higher-tech workforce for a long time.  However, these efforts haven’t gotten any traction, as you can see in this graph of the percentage of new Florida bachelors’ degrees being earned in natural science and engineering fields (once again from the 2012 NSF Science and Engineering Indicators):

We have to try something substantial and new.  Lower tuition for science and engineering majors might help.

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