The Corner

Health Care

RE: NYU’s Tuition-Free Medical-School Model

In response to NYU Offers Free Medical School!

I read with interest Wesley Smith’s post about NYU’s plan for tuition-free medical school. Given what it takes to become a doctor in this country, and what that earns you compared to working in finance or technology, I’m sometimes surprised we have any doctors at all. There’s a good reason we have so many immigrant doctors.

But the tuition-free model isn’t for everyone. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas, the chancellor (ye gods, the job titles we give bureaucrats) of the UT System got himself into trouble by telling the truth in public. UT, he said, could get rid of tuition any time it wanted to. The problem, as he told it, was that the state wouldn’t let the university raise academic standards for admission: Tuition wasn’t for raising revenue — it was for population control.

(Because of legal challenges to the university’s race-based admissions policies, UT now has a different model than it did at that time, with a certain number of spots being set aside for Texas high-school students graduating in the top X percent (it was 10 percent, but the percentage keeps going down) of their class.)

Presumably, a tuition-free NYU medical school will be even more attractive to top applicants. I wonder how that will affect its already-high standards, and whether public undergraduate programs that could go tuition-free really want to do so.

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