Mississippi State Auditor urges college funding overhaul to tackle brain drain caused by ‘worthless fields’.

Mississippi State Auditor Advocates for Funding Shift in Degree Programs

Mississippi State Auditor Shad⁣ White is pushing for a significant change⁢ in funding for degree programs at public universities.​ He aims to redirect resources away from what he⁤ refers to as “garbage fields” like women’s and African American studies, which often result in graduates leaving the state.

A recent report from the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office has highlighted this call for change, emphasizing the ‍importance⁣ of aligning college majors with ​workforce needs‌ to address Mississippi’s “brain drain” issue. This problem arises when college ‌graduates leave the state in search of better​ job opportunities.

The report reveals that taxpayers invest the⁣ same⁤ amount in educating both electrical engineering and anthropology majors. However, graduates in electrical engineering earn over $71,000 ‌annually in‌ their Mississippi jobs, ⁢while anthropology graduates earn less than a third of that amount and⁣ often​ leave the ⁤state ⁢without ​contributing to its economy.

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“Some programs—like Women’s Studies, African-American/Black Studies, German Language and Literature—placed so few graduates in Mississippi jobs ‌that analysts could not calculate a statistically significant median salary for those graduates. Yet ⁣the state ⁢invests just​ as much, per student, in these programs as in Electrical Engineering or⁤ Registered Nurse programs,” the report stated‍ (pdf).

The state auditor’s report states that by aligning educational programs with workforce ⁤demands and promoting fields with strong ‌employment outcomes in Mississippi, “our state ⁤can maximize the billions of dollars Mississippi taxpayers⁤ spend on‍ higher education.”

‘Garbage Fields’ Are Bad for the ​Economy

Mr. White has been vocal about his views, stating that ‍”garbage fields” are detrimental to both students and ‌the​ economy.

“Degrees in garbage fields are terrible‍ for students,” ​he wrote on X on Sept.‌ 15. “Kids graduate⁢ with debt they can’t ⁤repay. It’s the reason U.S. student debt has​ doubled⁣ in the last 20 years.”

He also contends that ⁣degrees​ in “garbage fields” are bad for the economy, producing graduates “who offer no real skills.”

He goes on to ​criticize universities for offering ​programs with ⁣questionable employment ⁤prospects.

“You know who loves degrees with cheap ⁣professors who specialize in ⁣sexual ⁤identity or urban stand-up comedy? Universities,” Mr. White writes.

“They can run these programs for nothing. It’s way cheaper to send you through ​sociology than aerospace‌ engineering,” he charges. “If you sign up for⁢ one of these useless ​majors, ‘I call that getting tricked by​ a business,’​ to borrow a phrase.”

“But by ⁣all means, go take that Latinx Environmental Justice class in Urban Studies.⁢ Just don’t ask taxpayers to pay for it,” he adds.

The report highlights the⁣ need to focus on degree programs that yield ⁢strong‌ employment​ outcomes⁣ within Mississippi, particularly in critical sectors like health care and business. According to​ the U.S. Chamber of ‌Commerce, Mississippi is facing a labor shortage in such sectors.

The State Auditor’s Office⁤ suggests that public universities in Mississippi could provide​ better value to both⁣ taxpayers and graduates by aligning educational‌ programs with the ⁣state’s workforce needs. The report emphasizes that retaining more graduates in Mississippi, especially those from high-earning degree programs, ​could significantly boost ​the state’s economy.

“I’m not sure‌ why a plumber who pays⁣ his ‌taxes ‌should have to finance a degree⁣ in gender​ studies‍ in Mississippi,” said Mr.​ White. “Frankly, some of these programs seem like they​ exist just⁣ to warp the minds of young people.”

Ranking Degrees by Value

The report shows that graduates in the health care and education fields tend⁢ to stay in Mississippi and earn good ‍money. For example, nearly 76 percent of ‌registered‍ nurse graduates found jobs in the state ⁣with ‌a median​ income of $55,590—higher than the average⁤ household income.

Education graduates also earned more and graduated in larger numbers.

However, some well-paying programs, like engineering and business, struggle to keep ​graduates in Mississippi. Only about ​36 ​percent and 42 percent of their grads respectively⁤ remained by 2020.

Producing ‌and keeping more of these high-earning graduates in Mississippi ⁢could bring in millions of⁣ dollars, the report ​states. ⁢If just over half of graduates stayed and worked ‌in Mississippi,⁤ it could boost the state’s economy by more than $75 million annually.

But not all programs do well.‌ Some, like anthropology and sociology,‌ have lower incomes and graduates who often leave Mississippi. For example, anthropology graduates earned nearly $17,000 ‌less than‌ their peers, and they were among the least likely to stay in the ‍state. Sociology graduates faced a similar situation, earning nearly $12,000⁤ less than their peers, with few from the 2015–2017 cohort ⁣choosing to remain in Mississippi.

“It’s part of my job as State Auditor to show you how your taxpayer​ money is spent and whether it’s being spent ​wisely. In this case, it is not,” said Mr. White.

What are the‍ economic implications ⁢of investing ‍the same amount ‌per student in degree programs with significant⁤ differences in⁢ earning potential?

Ional programs⁣ with workforce ⁢demands. This would involve reallocating resources ⁤away from degree programs that have low employment outcomes and⁢ instead investing in‍ programs that have‍ strong job prospects in ⁣the state.

The report from the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office⁣ highlights the disparity in‍ funding ‍between different degree programs. ​It ⁢reveals that the state invests the same amount per student in ‌fields like electrical engineering and anthropology,⁤ despite the significant difference⁢ in earning‍ potential for graduates. Electrical engineering graduates earn ⁣over $71,000 annually in Mississippi jobs, while anthropology graduates ‌earn less than ⁤a third of that amount ​and often leave the state without contributing to its economy.

The report further states that certain programs, such as women’s studies, African-American/black studies, and German‌ language and literature, have⁤ placed so few graduates in Mississippi jobs that the ​median salary for⁤ these‍ graduates could not be calculated. Yet, the state ⁢invests the same amount per student in ⁤these programs as it does in more lucrative fields like electrical ‍engineering ​or⁤ registered nurse ⁣programs.

By aligning educational ⁢programs with workforce demands, the state can maximize its investment in ​higher education.⁣ This would not only‍ benefit taxpayers but ‍also‌ help address the‌ issue of “brain drain” ‍in⁣ Mississippi. Many college graduates leave the state in search of better job opportunities, resulting in a⁤ loss⁢ of talent ‍and potential economic⁣ growth.

State ⁤Auditor Shad White has been vocal about his‌ stance⁤ on this issue. He refers to these programs as “garbage fields” that are detrimental to both students and the economy. According to⁤ him, degrees in these fields saddle students with debt they can’t repay‌ and produce graduates ⁢with no real skills. He criticizes universities for offering programs with questionable employment prospects and highlights the cost-effectiveness of running these programs compared to more specialized and lucrative fields.

The auditor’s report underscores the importance of focusing on degree⁤ programs that‍ have strong employment outcomes within ⁣Mississippi. It suggests that public universities in the state can provide better value to both taxpayers and⁣ graduates ⁣by prioritizing critical sectors like​ health care and business. With Mississippi facing a labor shortage in these ⁤areas, aligning‌ educational programs with workforce demands would not only benefit students but also contribute to the state’s economic growth.

In conclusion, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White advocates for a funding shift in degree programs at public universities. By redirecting resources away from ‍fields with low employment outcomes and investing in programs that ⁤align with workforce demands, the state ‍can maximize its investment in higher education, ⁣address the issue of ⁢”brain drain,” ⁤and promote economic growth.

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