Very little prior research has examined public perceptions of research funding and the life chances associated with various fields of study. In the present task, 315 members of the Austrian general public rated 34 higher-education courses in terms of funding cuts or increases, and the perceived life chances of graduates, respectively. The results showed a high degree of correspondence in the ratings of both questionnaires. Overall, professional and biological stream courses were rated the most favourably, whereas arts and humanities courses were rated the least favourably. Participants' demographic variables had little influence on their decisions. The implications of these findings for the way higher education is managed and organised are discussed.