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.