No subsidies for 'French literature majors,' one governor warns

All funding will be based on outcomes, he says

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) wants to bring performance-based funding for higher education to the state, but his emphasis on investing in high-demand degrees has some educators worried, Adam Beam reports for the Associated Press.

Performance-based higher education funding is increasingly popular. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 32 states award at least some funding based on performance measures such as graduation rates and labor-market outcomes.

Bevin unveiled a budget proposal last week that would allocate all of the state's funding for higher education based on outcomes. According to AP, the transition would take several years.

More engineers, fewer literature experts

While Bevin's budget did not detail outcome measures that schools would be evaluated on, he did comment on what disciplines were worthy of state support. "There will be more incentives to electrical engineers than French literature majors," he told reporters last week. "All the people in the world that want to study French literature can do so, they are just not going to be subsidized by the taxpayer."

Jeffrey Peters, a French literature professor at the University of Kentucky (UK), criticized the governor's comments in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader last Wednesday. Peters noted that Bevin himself has a degree in east asian studies, and argued that Bevin's approach would "risk denying Kentucky students the very course of study [Bevin] found to be so intellectually and professionally rewarding."

Webconference: Reaffirming the liberal arts with a modern and practical twist

UK President Eli Capilouto said in a release that he is continuing to focus on improving graduation rates and expanding access. "We will not trim our aspirations," he said, "but we do have to find more creative ways to power our progress" (Beam, AP/U.S. News & World Report, 1/29).


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