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China To Cancel College Majors That Don't Pay 463

theodp writes "The WSJ reports that China's Ministry of Education plans to phase out majors producing unemployable graduates. The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which more than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work. What if the U.S. government were to adopt China's approach? According to the most recent U.S. census data, among the first majors to go: psychology, U.S. history and military technologies. Lest you computer programmers get too smug, consider this."
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China To Cancel College Majors That Don't Pay

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  • by masternerdguy ( 2468142 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:24PM (#38176346)
    OH noes, I can't get my degree in Native American History anymore!
    • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:51PM (#38176518) Homepage Journal

      It's bad because Liberty is an unalienable right, and the government has no business deciding what you should study.

      We are tool-builders, and we created money as a tool to help us. Instead we find economists treating money as a God to which we must sacrifice humans (not them, but other, poorer, humans).

      Unemployment is a good thing, a sign of economic progress, the result of higher productivity. What we should do is provide a basic income to everyone who wants one, and hold challenges to stimulate innovation and the advance of knowledge. Because it is knowledge that confers the greatest survival benefit by enabling us to better predict and adapt to sudden catastrophic change.

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:52PM (#38176522)
        Not paying for it != saying you can't do it. They just want state money going somewhere that will actually return something.
      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dak664 ( 1992350 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:17PM (#38176666) Journal

        I both agree and disagree with that. The survival of a species during a sudden change is enhanced by the diversity of individuals, viz. Von Neumann's theory that random moves are the best strategy in any sufficiently complicated game. So I am for Liberty and against government manipulations, whether to provide a basic standard of living or to subsidize education.

        • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @11:05PM (#38178810)

          Exactly, we already see this in China because they managed to weed out a whole generation of girls. They are very firmly in a command economy even if it's not "communist". Most of the Eastern Asian countries have this problem, trying to get masses to conform to what's useful for business right now. Was it Korea or Japan complaining that men's waistlines were requiring too many sizes of pants in stores... that was not "efficient". Health had nothing to do with it.

          This is why the free market works. Each person will go into a career because it pays well, or because they really excel at it and want to be there for less money. In this way there is always a buffer of individuals with skills ready to go for whatever employers need. Never mind that many degrees that don't pay well take years to achieve mastery of. If you stop the degrees now, then in 10 years when the current group of workers retires, you won't have workers with 10 years experience... Although in a command economy they really don't think that way. They think more of hire the best people needed now, then move on...

      • by just_a_monkey ( 1004343 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:17PM (#38176668)
        I want a basic income. Should I just email you my account number so you can start making deposits, or how do you want to go about it?
        • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:49PM (#38176900)

          If the government set up such a program, we'd all chip in to give you the bare necessities of life. If you want more, you need to work for it. Pretty simple, actually.

          • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by WCLPeter ( 202497 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:37PM (#38178212) Homepage

            The problem is that in practice it doesn't work.

            During the dotcom bust I spent three years unemployed, it sucked graduating from college on an economic downturn. Sure, I had the odd job fed my way by the temp agencies I'd registered with but it was sporadic at best, a month here, six weeks there, followed by months of nothing; I ended up working 6 months out of every twelve, just enough to continue qualifying for Unemployment Benefits. No matter how many resumes, interviews, call backs, meetings, and hitting the job boards I did I got no nibbles. It was demoralizing as hell trying to find full time work.

            Oddly though it was also the best part of my life so far.

            I got up every morning and would check the job sites, call the temp agencies to let them know I was still available, comb through the newspaper, do my call backs, check my e-mail, set up interviews and then send out the next batch of resumes. Most days I was done "work" by 11:00 AM. Once I had done what I could to find a job I had the entire rest of the day to myself and damn, was that ever freeing. Knowing the unemployment cheque was still coming meant I didn't need to worry about the roof over my head or the food in my stomach, I actually got to live. One of my favourite things to do on a nice day was to sit under a shaded tree at the park on a weekday afternoon curled up with a good book, I'd watch all the worker drones quietly grumbling about how much they hated their jobs and would just love to take the afternoon off and curl up with a good book under a tree.

            I got to catch up on my reading, watch movies and interesting documentaries, play games, try new recipes in a cook book, look up things online solely for the pleasure of attaining knowledge, etc... Hell, I even found time to use the workout equipment I'd bought when I was previously employed and was on my way to getting a six pack. I was technically "poor" but I was amazed at just how much living a person can do with a limited budget and loads of free time. With all that freedom, and keeping in mind my limited budget, I found I could do what I wanted when I wanted and not have to worry about my basic existence.

            Once a person's basic needs are taken care of anyone with even the tiniest hint of imagination will be able to figure out what to do with their day and be fully and completely fulfilled with it. Up to the point of my unemployment I had never had as much satisfaction or enjoyment in my life as I did when I wasn't working. Now, I make enough money to be considered on the low end of the middle class and have all kinds of cool toys and tonnes of spending money but I'm not happy. I've tasted real freedom and now so much of my day is filled with doing things I don't want to do but need to in order to survive. If I knew I could collect a cheque that would keep my stomach full and a roof over my head and there were no strings attached, I'd quit my job right now and spend the rest of my life doing what I want to do when I want to do it.

            And so would a lot of other people.

            Until the day someone invents Star Trek replicators, giving people the bare necessities with incentives to work doesn't work. Someone will have to work to provide the tax dollars we're going to divert to those who are on the basic allowance, eventually we would have a very small number of the population supporting the majority. The people who are working are going to get angry at being the only ones working while every one else stays at home and lives a happy fulfilling life.

            • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Anthony Mouse ( 1927662 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @12:26AM (#38179242)

              You're just not being imaginative enough.

              How do you provide housing to everyone? You have the government offer a zero interest, zero payments loan up to $150,000 toward the purchase of a home to every adult. The principal is payable in full the day you stop living in the house. The government can fund the program by itself borrowing the money, which it can do at extremely low interest rates, so that the cost to the government will only be e.g. $1500/year. Then pay that interest using property tax with a $150,000 personal deduction, so only homes costing more than the loan amount will have any property tax, and so that way the price of homes won't just go up by the subsidy amount because people won't be willing to pay that much extra property tax.

              Think about that: We could have a relatively small tax that primarily falls on the rich (or at least, people with large houses) and provide the option of free housing to everyone. Which is the most expensive part of a basic income.

              In addition to that, the idea that everyone is going to just quit their job is ridiculous. What will happen is that lots of people will quit and to get them back to work, the employers will have to pay higher wages and provide better working conditions. It will also provide a large incentive to automation, because of the higher labor costs. I don't see either of those as a bad thing.

              • by irtza ( 893217 )

                Manufacturing will leave the country... sorry - has left the country - and white collar jobs will follow. That note about how much an engineer in China is worth should scare you. Short of this strategy being employed across all markets, there is no incentive to hire a US grad with wages as they are. This would just finish the job and we would join the ranks of other socialist countries that are unwilling to give up there benefits to make their nation financially sound. Of course, we could close our door

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Howitzer86 ( 964585 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:35PM (#38176792)

        Besides, history is important. The people studying it don't expect to make money with it anyway. They study out of genuine interest, and they serve to keep history alive. Without the historians, the politicos will have complete control to rewrite it to say whatever it is they want.

        The Christian monks in the middle ages saved a lot of our pre-Dark Age history. They weren't paid very much to do it, but without them we wouldn't know half of what we do now about our history as a human race. If you use money as an excuse to dictate everything and everyone (naturally this is a kind of socialism), then you're in for a wild ride.

        • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MaskedSlacker ( 911878 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:42PM (#38176856)

          Besides, history is important. The people studying it don't expect to make money with it anyway. They study out of genuine interest, and they serve to keep history alive. Without the historians, the politicos will have complete control to rewrite it to say whatever it is they want.

          That's a feature, not a bug, of cutting history majors. At least, as far as the Chinese government is concerned.

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Restil ( 31903 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @07:14PM (#38177082) Homepage

        This is CHINA we're talking about here. The United States would never "cancel" degrees or otherwise dictate to colleges/Universities, private or otherwise, what classes or degree plans they can and can't offer. HOWEVER, it could happen that government funded student loan programs could be optimized to only go toward degree plans that have a reasonable chance of resulting in a decent job later. This helps to insure that the loan gets repaid. You can still study nuclear underwater basketweaving if you so desire, but you'll get to spend your own (or more likely your parents') money on it instead.


        • It already did. Look up "National SMART grant". If you qualified for the Federal Pell grant and then during your last two years of college in a STEM major, you get extra money.

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by catchblue22 ( 1004569 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @07:31PM (#38177220) Homepage

        It's not that I think that I don't think that many of the light weight college degrees being handed out aren't a joke, because many of them are. I believe education should be rigorous, and to put it mildly, standards have dropped. However, I think it is a deep mistake to try to make all education the equivalent of job training. There is far more to life than making money. If we abolish, or significantly reduce the importance of the humanities in education, our entire society will become poorer in ways that are difficult to measure. I'm a physics guy, but I have found reading Homer, Gibbon, Plato and Aristotle immensely enriching. I don't read these things to make money. I read them because they are part of the shared history and culture of our society. They give me perspective on my own life and about our civilization. They inspire my curiously about the world. They help supply the "why" in regards to "what" I study.

    • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:01PM (#38176564)

      OH noes, I can't get my degree in Native American History anymore!

      If Native American History is what you want to study, the government has no right to tell you you can't. And even the most obscure and narrow fields of study could have some wider applicability. For all you know, by studying Native American History you could learn about nomadic or warrior-like tribes react when exposed to an outside, hostile force. Can you think of a couple situations that are happening right now where this might apply? I can. You can discover migration patterns of groups of people in response to certain stimuli such as drastic climate changes (early American inhabitants such as Clovis/paleo-Indian civilizations) or eradication of a primary food source. Again, events that could reasonably happen in the foreseeable future. Suddenly Native American History doesn't seem so easy to discard, does it?

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:46PM (#38176876) Homepage Journal

        OH noes, I can't get my degree in Native American History anymore!

        If Native American History is what you want to study, the government has no right to tell you you can't.

        Thats fine, but taxpayers shouldn't pay for the degree, either, nor should banks or taxpayers give you a loan for a degree that you'll never be able to pay for as a file clerk or a guy making Lattes. Just because you're interested in it doesn't mean that other people should pay for it. If Native American History is that much of a passion for you, and you don't have the grades for a scholarship, then take a year or two, work and put every available dime away, and pay for it yourself.

    • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gtall ( 79522 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @07:44PM (#38177312)

      Ah, another Philistine. Way back when, long ago before your simple mind has read, there were physicists who thought about amazing things yet those things had no relevance to the then modern life. They thought about atoms and particles and forces and such. They built grand theories, mathematics that would cause a grown man to cry, but not you since you haven't a prayer of understanding it. It happened, in the long distance future that their theories and mathematics created the foundation of many modern industries.

      But you argue, mathematics and science were bound to give us untold riches, surely we wouldn't axe those. However, it turned out that these crazy scientists built their new theories on older mathematics and older understanding. How could this be? Well, those precursors surely had no idea where it would all lead.

      Further analysis reveals even these old "natural scientists" based their theories on even older philosophers. They deemed of "atoms" composing everything material. Forces moved the particles. The heavens controlled the forces.

      Back in those ancient times, geometry was esteemed and developed to align human thought with the heavens and how they influenced life on this earth. They conceived of the universe as a giant machine. This notion seemed pervasive, it never seemed to go away, no matter how many influential people declared it void of any practical use.

      The precursors of the atoms and particles and forces and such conceived of machines which moved in lock step of gears and wheels and such. The common folk (you) laughed and exclaimed it was all worthless and would come to nothing.

      But lo, machines were built, textiles made, the machines became reified. Astounded, compatriots of the atoms and particles and forces people conceived of mathematical theories to describe precisely what the ideal machines could actually do.

      Inconceivably, some wild-eyed engineers thought to build approximations to these machines. The approximations were not robust, they broke down a lot, needed lots of spare parts.

      Then lightning struck! The engineers read what the scientists were saying about atoms and particles and forces and such. The transistor was born.

      The rest is history. Think of how educated you'd be if you understood this.

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @08:20PM (#38177674)

        Regardless, the government is not subsidizing education so that the low income bracket can educate themselves on things that may be useful in a thousand years. The intent is to try to help them move out of the low income classes, and off the dole.

        If you're a rich kid and want to study native american history in the hopes that maybe you can realize Asimov's psychohistory, and your parents will pay for it, knock yourself out.

      • Re:Is it that bad? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @10:19PM (#38178542) Homepage Journal

        All those brilliant thinkers were independently wealthy land owners and self financed. They were so far removed from the public education system it completely invalidates whatever your point was supposed to be.

    • Unfortunately, the Chinese haven't grown up watching G.I. Joe. Otherwise, they would have known that knowledge is only half of the battle. Now only if G.I. Joe told us what the other half was...
  • by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:26PM (#38176354)

    That will just shift unemployable people to other majors!

  • Psych (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover ( 1679530 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:27PM (#38176356)

    Psych is a default major for girls. If you effectively cancel it, you will just have a new default major.

    (Default majors are the majors that undecided people go into.)

    Of course, if you channeled default majors to fields we could really use people in, the average quality of that field's graduates would go down, but the quantity of available talent would go up.

    • by Surt ( 22457 )

      The quantity of available talent might go up, assuming your definition of talent requires some minimum level of actual ability.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:27PM (#38176358)

    Need Belly Rubberz

  • In college and cut the time to 3 years.

    • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:41PM (#38176436) Homepage Journal

      Actually, I think that the US needs to make high school worth something again.

      Second would be encouraging technical schools, stuff where businesses are screaming they can't find employees.

      Third would be reigning in the cost of an education. There shouldn't be any excuse for tuition to be skyrocketing like it has for as long as it has. It's a classic sign of a bubble.

      Fourth would perhaps be cutting funding for, as the op mentions, 'unproductive majors'.

      • by blue trane ( 110704 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:54PM (#38176536) Homepage Journal

        Productivity should measure happiness and quality of life, not number of dollars produced. Money is a tool to serve us, not the other way around.

        • by swalve ( 1980968 )
          Instead of redefining productivity, how about you just use "happiness" and "quality of life"?
      • to going along with hands on lab based classes as there only so much that can be down in the lab and real work place has lot's software / setups and more that is all over the place.

      • Third would be reigning in the cost of an education. There shouldn't be any excuse for tuition to be skyrocketing like it has for as long as it has. It's a classic sign of a bubble.

        Educational costs have been rising for the same reason housing price rose.... easy access to credit. Get rid of educational loans and tuition will drop.

      • by SuurMyy ( 1003853 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:05PM (#38176604) Homepage
        The businesses complain, because they want cheap labour. Therefore they will complain until there is an excess of people for a given field and they lower salaries, etc. So listening to their complaints is questionable.
      • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:26PM (#38176732)

        Actually, I think that the US needs to make high school worth something again.

        Far too much control has shifted to the Educational Institution in this country to allow that to ever happen. Just look at the financial numbers behind a recent firing of a football coach and his staff.

        Second would be encouraging technical schools, stuff where businesses are screaming they can't find employees.

        Hey you businesses! Any of you want to pay a decent wage for all those vocational/technical jobs you're screaming for?


        (Hmmm...I wonder if there's a correlation there...)

        Third would be reigning in the cost of an education. There shouldn't be any excuse for tuition to be skyrocketing like it has for as long as it has. It's a classic sign of a bubble.

        When you realize that the same people who brought you the financial meltdown are a lot of the same people who sit on the boards of higher education, you'll see exactly what kind of "bubble" they expect. If it's anything like the financial "bubble", they can't bring on an impending educational and financial apocalypse (and subsequent bailout for them to pocket) fast enough.

        Fourth would perhaps be cutting funding for, as the op mentions, 'unproductive majors'.

        Which I happen to think is an absolute horrible idea. When the entire purpose of higher education becomes the relentless pursuit of small pieces of little green paper, don't expect the true value of education to shine through. The arts...music...philosophy...all will become a dying breed(as if Autotune didn't kill music enough). All of them will fall victim to the greed and corruption that has taken control of this world. And it sickens me. If that is what we want to define as an "education", then don't expect the rest of the world to consider our society worth a shit as a whole as we march around as an Army of Borg representing nothing but well-educated Greed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Hey you businesses! Any of you want to pay a decent wage for all those vocational/technical jobs you're screaming for?


          (Hmmm...I wonder if there's a correlation there...)


          If there's a shortage of qualified people in a field, the answer isn't to "encourage" (read: throw money at) the schools teaching in the field. The answer is for employers to man up, quit whining to the government, and pay the clearing wage.

      • by Surt ( 22457 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @07:57PM (#38177424) Homepage Journal

        Yep, kids can handle a tougher HS. I went to one that rendered my first two years at college useless. Sadly, I was only allowed to test out of so much content before they stopped being willing to give me that much credit. But we could clearly shift the learning forward by a couple of years for most people, and get those top people through the (typically most challenging) first year of the phd before they get legal access to alcohol.

    • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:42PM (#38176444)
      Why on earth would they want to make college cheaper? It's a business like anything else. Everyone knows a fair amount of the courses in most degree programs are required solely for the purposes of generating income.
      • What about free online classes like Stanford, Khan Academy etc. are providing? What about IRC, where ppl help each other for free? Give up your old feudal paradigms, embrace the new information age where the cost of disseminating knowledge is basically zero.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:34PM (#38176390) Journal
    Historically, students and 'intellectuals' have been perceived(sometimes accurately, sometimes with paranoia verging on hysteria) as menaces to the social and political establishment...

    I'd be interested to know how much of this is purely about resource allocation and how much of it is about ensuring that absolutely as many people as possible are doing something practical, chasing the brass ring, and generally staying out of idle theorizing and similar such trouble...
    • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:51PM (#38176520) Homepage Journal
      This is especially true in China, during the cultural revolution academics were often dragged out of their houses and put on trials in kangaroo courts for being part of the bourgeoisie. Part of the reason China's university system is still pretty weak is that they literally killed off most of their academics and installed party shills instead.
      • In contemporary Chinese historiography, Cultural Revolution is considered an epic fail of outstanding proportions (which is why they try to assign the blame for it to other people rather than Mao).

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:07PM (#38176612)

      I think it might be a combination of both. People who are busy working seldom have time for thinking, and majors that focus on employable work rarely lift the mind to contemplation of things like human rights or freedom.

      Most of the great thinkers in human history have been educated (self or through establishments) in the "liberal arts" (literally, the freeing arts, specifically geometry, astronomy, music, arithmetic, grammar, logic, and rhetoric). Nowadays, liberal arts has an extremely poor reputation, because those who seek it seldom do so out of interest in the higher things, but it used to be that people who learned them did so because they were interested in advancing the state of human knowledge, and in lifting humanity as a whole towards higher and better things. Also, because today's culture focuses so highly on productivity, and people who study those areas are rarely great producers of goods.

      What they do produce are things like the concept of human rights, new (and sometimes better) political and economic systems, great works of literature, and new areas of mathematics. Sure, you can use some of those things to produce money, but generally the more important thing is the evolution of human knowledge. It is quite unfortunate that society does not generally value that, because our culture would be tremendously impoverished did they not exist. Don Quixote wasn't a work that paid a lot of money: but it did greatly enhance human culture.

      Oh yeah, and those people also tend to produce revolutions in human society (such as Marxism, somewhat ironically). It is pretty obvious that governments which are interested primarily in preserving the status quo and not in the good of it's citizens wouldn't encourage such leisurely pursuits.

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mpsmps ( 178373 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:34PM (#38176392)

    ...cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.

    I guess the headline should be "China to Cancel College Majors That Do Pay

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:35PM (#38176396)

    CS should be for the higher level theory based stuff.

    But the other stuff like tech work, programing, web, it security, IT management needs to have less theory and more hands on work. As well class room with more of tech school based course load.

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Programmers absolutely need CS to be effective, all the others might work as a tech school. On the other hand if you want to be IT management then management science classes and accounting classes would both be very useful and aren't likely to be found in a trade school (at least as they exist in the US today).
  • Now why can't doctors have a 2-3 year pre med school that cut's down the cost and time that they are in school do they really need a full 4-5 years before med school?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:44PM (#38176464)

      Yes. They do. They really really do. Because I've taught the pre-med kids and by god they are NOT scientists when they come in. It's not just that they don't know very much - that we can fix by forcing them to study like crazy. But they can't THINK logically, solve problems analytically and it takes at least 4-5 years for most of them to actually finally begin to understand statistics, hypothesis testing, selection bias etc that they need before med school.

      I have little respect for many MDs as they appear to be inferior to databases, but at least they have some analytic skill. If you cut the premed you cut that. It makes me shudder to think of the kids only 2-3 years in being anywhere near making a treatment decision on someone with the flu, let alone diagnosing a complicated illness.

      • Oh please. Like most graduates with MDs have the slightest clue about statistics, hypothesis testing, selection bias, etc.

        What's even worse is that most of them do believe they've got a clue and believe themselves to be more competent than they really are.

        Most of the rest of the world does fine with 6-7 year combined medical programs. One could make the argument that as a whole, they do better as measured by health outcomes of the general population.

        The real issue in the US is this absurd notion that the
    • Partly for spelling and grammar. No, I kid.

  • by ShooterNeo ( 555040 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:39PM (#38176414)

    What is wrong with doing this? China isn't banning knowledge about useless majors, it's simply declining to pay people to study majors that don't train people to be contributing members to society.

    The USA should absolutely do the same. We need more engineers and less psychology majors.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:45PM (#38176476)

      What is wrong with doing this? China isn't banning knowledge about useless majors, it's simply declining to pay people to study majors that don't train people to be contributing members to society.

      The USA should absolutely do the same. We need more engineers and less psychology majors.

      What happens when 60% of engineers are unemployable? This policy ignores the 40% of these majors that have jobs.

      The most fundamental problem with this is that a university education is NOT vocational training. It's not meant to be nor should it ever be. The problem in the US is that we have devalued trade schools. Not enough people are going into trades like plumber, carpenter, mechanic, etc...

      • For jobs like mail room or help desk level 1.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:40PM (#38176424)

    Armies of "ants", where one happened to stumble into a computer programming job?

    Sorry, but I'll worry when more than 10% of any population takes a REAL interest in computer programming and not just just as a job. If you are just looking at computer work as a source of a job you may have issues, but for those who find computer programming to be a calling I think they'll be able to make do just fine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:42PM (#38176442)

    According to the link in TFA, the US majors with the highest unemployment rates [wsj.com] are

    • Psychology, 19.5%
    • Fine arts, 16.2%
    • US history, 15.1%
    • Library science, 15%
    • Educational psychology, 10.9%

    The first computer-related field is "computer administration management and security" at 9.5%. Whatever the heck that is - sounds like a wannabe-degree.

    Anyhow, it's an interesting table, because you can sort by unemployment, earnings or popularity...

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      I saw that on CBS Moneywatch.

      I don't see any clear pattern there. Do these unemployment numbers stay constant from year to year? Or will they be completely different 5 years from now when you graduate?

      I don't think this gives much support to the line, "It's your own fault that you took out college loans and still can't get a job. You should have studied something useful."

      Maybe you could guess that visual and performing arts might not be a marketable major, but engineering and industrial management?

      Maybe com

  • Time look at the middle ages roots in today's colleges and think of how meany majors are left overs for the past, stuff that has been dragged out and bloated out to 4 years.

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:44PM (#38176474)

    Intellectuals such as some in academia create progressive ideas that disrupt the cultural order of society. Therefore creating more of them will create more instability in society.

    The view therefore is to only create a society of people who will not rock the boat and make society or in this case, the party, wealthy.

  • At the end of the day, graduates will "be forced to be employed.", and data will be made up.
    Only those that do real science will die, but there aren't any. So nothing really changes.

    That's the Chinese solution.

  • Or at least letting people pick a major after doing all General Educations classes?

    Makeing the k13 free like k12 and lower?

  • There has be some majors that can turned in to minors or at least be made of a few minors or you can take 2 majors and trun them into 1 major made up of 2 minors.

  • by Y.A.A.P. ( 1252040 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:51PM (#38176512)

    Looking at this quote in the article: "an overflow of workers whose skillsets don’t match with the needs of the export-led, manufacturing-based economy", it really doesn't look like China is thinking long-term.

    With how quickly more human-like robotics is coming along in recent years, it looks more and more like over half of those "manufacturing-based economy" jobs could be replaced by a robot that works better for those roles for less money than a human could.

    So, what does China do when all of those people are now without jobs. The same problem could be said to apply to all countries around the world as technology moves forward, but China is the one that is currently looking to concentrate people into this area that has has 'long-term obsolescence' stamped all over it. What do they do with all the people that they've trained to be unemployable, then? Soylent Green?

  • Difference (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:52PM (#38176524) Homepage

    Isn't there a fundamental difference in that China pays outright for the student to go to college, whereas the U.S. provides loans which the student repays with interest for years afterward? So in the U.S. there's anti-incentive to cut people off from going to college; it's yet another way to skim off the value of the working people's lifelong labor. China pays for the student, whereas the U.S. gets paid by the student.

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:53PM (#38176528)

    I thought you went to college to get an education, not a job. You go to college to study subjects you enjoy and want to learn more about, as well as get some knowledge about more general subjects that are useful to any well-rounded person. The job should not be the ultimate goal of college, it should be a by-product of college. The pursuit of knowledge itself should create a job opportunity in the field you have chosen to study. If you simply want a job, you should not be going to college. You should be going to a vo-tech and learning a marketable trade skill, whether that be nursing, various mechanics (automotive, airplane, nautical, etc), haircutting, or basic IT maintenance/installation. You shouldn't be getting yourself into $75,000-100,000 worth of debt if all you want is a job. I know plenty of people that went the vo-tech route, because that's what they wanted to do. They realized they had no need to go to college. If you want to work on cars, you go to a vo-tech school and learn to be a mechanic. You don't go to a top engineering school and study mechanical engineering.

    For the record, my undergraduate degree was in History. Did I expect to get a job out of it? No. I studied it because I enjoyed it, it came naturally to me and was very easy for me, and it was what I wanted to study. My Master's degree is in something a little more marketable and applicable (International Relations), but even now I approach it more as an application of history as opposed to the more descriptive efforts of some political scientists (and I do not consider it to be a real science). I enjoyed my undergraduate psychology classes, my lit classes, my Shakespeare and film class, and my German and Arabic classes. If I had had time, I would have taken science classes as well, but with my AP credits science classes were not necessary. I went to college for the classical reason you go to college. I enjoyed learning about subjects I knew little about, and I wanted to know how things (and people) work in the world, and how things got to where they are today.

  • He did not like all the required class but he did drop in to other class and that helped him a lot more then the required classes.

    Now can we rework the system around that idea so the drop ins don't go away and that people are not forced to waste time on use less required classes?

  • What if the U.S. government were to adopt China's approach?

    You mean pay someone's tuition if their major is on a list? It is a little late but, I'll go back if it is free this time around.

  • Stifle it? That's one way to prevent it!
  • by The Analog Kid ( 565327 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:12PM (#38176638)

    The US government doesn't need to tell colleges what majors to have, a market based solution would be much more efficient. Getting rid of student loans would not only would help stop people from majoring in useless degrees but it would lower the cost of tuition as students would no longer be easy sources of cash for the colleges, it would also stop the job requirement inflation. There's a lot of jobs that get posted with bachelor's required or at the very least bachelor's preferred, that do not need a bachelor's degree. It would probably take a number of years for the market to correct that, but eventually there would less people with bachelor degrees and companies would have to lower their requirements.

    The way it is these days, the government does not care what major you are going into, or how you'll even pay you're loans back. They don't care either, as it's nearly impossible to discharge student loans, they can garnish your wages, and "private" lender Sallie Mae also owns the collection agency. Unless you are going to never work in the US again, they will get their money back one way or another. No other loans in the US have the kind of protections for the creditor that student loans have. As a result there's no risk assessment done, where their would be if private loans with only the typical protections for loans were the only loans available. The lender would tell the wanna be poetry major to pick a more useful major, or get lost and pay for college themselves.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @06:59PM (#38176976)

    . . . who endanger his department by being unemployed.

    Prof.: "Now tomorrow is graduation . . . after that . . . you work . . . or you DIE!"

    Tarantino could make an excellent flick based on that. The Prof. pushes former students into bizarre jobs, just to get them off the unemployed list . . . or he kills them . . . all to a modern 50's trash rock soundtrack . . .

  • by MaXintosh ( 159753 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @07:05PM (#38177022)
    I'm probably going to rot in obscurity down here, since I'm posting so late to the story. However, someone over here [wordpress.com] did a really basic analysis with the typical "unemployment by college major" data that the Wall Street Journal put up. They looked at variance in unemployment related to popularity of a major. While the data set was incomplete (they didn't have true sample size, so they used rank, and transformed rank), it showed clear indications that those with the lowest sample size had the highest variance in unemployment. Far from making some broad claims about the utility of a major, it suggests that the less popular majors have big issues with small sample size. A single individual's employment history has far more effect on the statistics of those rare 'terrible majors' than the more populous ones. The only way to make the data trustworthy is to look at it for a much longer slice in time than we typically examine it for.

    Also, it's worth putting on your economics hat when you think of modifying incentives like this. The problem with the proposed structural change is it assumes that the government can react to changing incentives faster than an individual can. Where there is demand for labour is a shifting target from year to year, and decade to decade (Hell, it shifts from quarter to quarter in some cases!). By deciding where the incentives are, they government needs to be able to shift them to match need fast enough so when there's a shortage of Psychologists and a surplus of Biologists, people can react to it accordingly. I'm skeptical about a government's ability to react that quickly with policy. If you're going to include incentives, it's best to include incentives for education in general, and not for specific major, so such bias won't occur. If the incentives in the form of subsidization are equal across the board, demand signals should still be seen.

    And taking off my stats and economics hats, and putting on my skeptic hat, I want to see percentage-wise how much these 'terrible' majors actually cost the system. My intuition based off of the variance in unemployment vs. rank-popularity is that it doesn't cost the system much at all, and this is much-ado about nothing while the real expenses (Military spending, Medical spending) is ignored. Of course, much of the current fury over debt ignores the fact that the government is not like household/private debt. The two are functionally different.
  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @09:23PM (#38178090)

    Here's something I've always thought would be worth trying:

    Study what you want. Generous loans will be provided, but your educational institution bills you for the true cost of the services they provide. That's important so that people can then know what education actually costs whether or not they ultimately pay for it themselves.

    When you pay income tax, the government puts up an amount equal (or a percentage - that part is negotiable) and applies it to the student loan. Be a productive member of society and pay your taxes, and the student loan eventually vanishes on its own.

    And if you get an expensive advanced degree like medicine and then work abroad, they're come after you for the full cost of your education.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."