Here’s the problem - we are letting a bunch of business types decide on the value of education, based purely on their determination of the financial return on education.
First, as others have written - there is no real way to translate education to dollar amounts.
Second, this analysis looks at tuition and salaries as though they were “natural phenomena” which we, as a society, are unable to change. Therefore all of their solutions depend 100% on offering or not offering majors, based on the salaries of the graduates.
Third, the entire article treats all majors as though they were the same in regards to the skills and education that an applicant needs. Yes, a CS major makes a lot more than a History major. However, only a small number of students have the math talents required to study CS.
It’s not “STEM majors make more, so all students should major in STEM fields”. It is actually “All students who are not talented in a STEM field should not get a college degree, unless they are wealthy”.
Finally, just because CS or Data Science are now “hot”, that these are the fields that will be hot forever and ever. In another four years, technology may change enough that all the skills that are being taught in these fields will no longer be relevant. Unless somebody envisions universities as all being taught by contingent faculty who are hired and fired at will as the requirements change, they will always be playing catch up.
Of course, for some administrators and politicians, a university made up of highly paid administrators and low paid, powerless, contingent faculty is a dream come true.
However, no highly talented individual will be willing to go through even basic grad school for this “career”, and the “professors” will mostly be the college graduates who have no other job prospects - EXACTLY the sort of people that we want in charge of education.
Circling back to my second point, the big problem, which is being ignored, is that salaries have been stagnant for decades, and that tuition is going up.
We should stop increasing the size of the economy at the expense of the lower and middle class*, and we should increase financial support for public higher education. Then let us look at which college degrees are “profitable”.
‘*’ Productivity and the economy have been growing for decades, while most salaries have been stagnant. The profits from that growth and the increasing hard work of the workers have mostly gone to increase the capital gains of the already wealthy (and multimillion dollar bonuses for the top corporate positions).