Posner on educated women

Richard Posner argues that elite universities should raise tuition and then pay it back according to whether students work full time, to combat the perceived problem of super-educated mummy-trackers which recently seems to have ruffled a few feathers.

I for one think this is one area we can safely let people work out by themselves – the net effect of a pay-and-get-back policy would be to reduce the number of women applying for elite schools, and that is sure not a worthwhile outcome, even though the utilitarian economic case Posner makes (and it seems a bit tongue-in-cheek) has merit. That’s why economics is fun – you can rile people with logical arguments.

Well, I am sure this will be pointed out in spades – but I would like to point out that some schools do this already, for doctoral programs at least. When I did my DBA at the business school, I was supported by a loan from the school, 20% of which was forgiven every year after graduation as long as I was working full time in a degree-granting academic institution. That worked – it was a factor for me when deciding to teach, as for, I think, most of my classmates, rather than to work full-time in consulting. The benefit to the school, of course, was that a higher proportion of its graduates go into teaching than otherwise would have (given that the school has a practice-oriented reputation, that might increase its scholarly standing). For the students that do chose to go into consulting or other non-academic work, the pay differnential finances the loan payback anyway – and the school knows that it is not spending money educating super-consultants.

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