Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is encouraging public universities to consider eradicating academic programs that do not produce graduates who find high paying, high demand jobs.
His message to universities and school presidents comes as the state of Kentucky deals with a financial crisis. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, “Economists estimate Kentucky faces a $200 million shortfall when the fiscal year ends in mid-2018” as the state attempts to fix its public pension system. The tight state budget makes cutting low demand college programs an appealing option.
In a speech at a post-secondary higher education conference, Bevin suggested the need for universities to steer students towards jobs that are in higher demand.
“If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” he remarked on Tuesday.
Bevin directed some of his comments towards middle school educators, saying, “This idea that simply going to college is enough” should not continue to be propagated to students. He continued by stating that a college degree can be meaningless if students “were not studying the right things.”
“Find entire parts of your campus […] that don’t need to be there,” Bevin said. “Either physically as programs, degrees that you’re offering, buildings that […] shouldn’t be there because you’re maintaining something that’s not an asset of any value, that’s not helping to produce that 21st century educated workforce.”
Bevin, whose hope is that Kentucky will become the country’s leading manufacturing and engineering center, reinforced his desire to see programs cut by saying that educators have a responsibility to prepare students for “jobs that matter” as opposed to allowing them to be “sitting in their parents’ basements” and “competing with people for jobs that are minimum wage.”
Bevin admitted that his charge would be viewed as “sacrilege” by some, but this is not the first time he has called for the restructuring academic programs to push students towards careers in higher demand.
Developing the state workforce has been a high priority for Bevin throughout his term as governor. Though his comments may offend students enrolled in low demand academic programs, Bevin’s foresight and desire to see college graduates achieving success may give educators an extra push to ensure that their students will be successful contributors to society following graduation.