Friday, July 25, 2008

Government funding of faculty housing

The government recently announced that it is building flats to house university faculty. Scheduled for completion in 2009, these units will likely convey a subsidy of about 17 million Drams, or slightly over $50,000, per 100 sqm to each recipient.

One can only applaud this action by the government, as education and educators have long been overlooked by policymakers. But one wonders whether this is the best approach to rectifying the past and enhancing the role of educators in the society. How does one decide how to equitably allocate these housing units? Should these reflect seniority of faculty members, publication records, excellence in teaching, among other factors? Equally important, who gets to evaluate the merits of recipients? I just can't see a good way of spreading the benefit from this gesture by the government.

As an alternative why not auction off the building under construction, and with the proceeds simply increase faculty pay across the board. Obviously, one would hope that some merit pay mechanism is instituted to govern future pay raises as well.