Here is an interesting article I came across entitled “Is Computer Science Dying?” which discusses declining enrolment in computer science faculties and departments and some of the reasons behind it.
Why is Computer Science enrolment declining?
Important factors in the declining enrolment are the fallout from the dot.com bubble along with the trend towards increased outsourcing to foreign countries. These factors give the impression that jobs in IT and computer science are scarce and/or insecure. In my opinion another large reason behind the shift in university enrolment is the spread of computers and IT through other disciplines. Previously the only way to work with computers was to specialize in computer science but today any almost every discipline has been influenced computers and IT. From geography with GIS systems to engineering’s reliance on computers it is no longer necessary to have a computer science degree to work with computers.
Is Computer Science misunderstood?
One of the premises brought forward is that computer science is misunderstood. People often think of computer scientists as programmers and the case is made that computer science and software engineering are two different disciplines which is often not appreciated by the general public. This misconception can lead to confusion and unreasonable expectations when dealing with computer scientists. As the article states: “The point of an academic degree, as opposed to a vocational qualification, is to teach understanding, rather than skills.” Another choice reference from the article is Edsgar Dijkstra: “Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” Touche….
Google gets involved
As a major employer of computer scientists, Google is quite concerned about the issue of declining enrollment in Computer Science programs in North America. In fact, they organized a Google Education Summit this summer to discuss the issue and to try to find solutions to the problem. The Education Summit presentations available at from the above link has some good ideas to combat the problem.