Can higher education keep up with computer science interest?

Net Neutrality design from http://www.savetheinternet.comIt’s no secret that computer science careers are more lucrative than ever. Plenty of students have recognized the opportunity, but can higher education keep up?

In a New York Times article titled The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class the author brings to light a very serious issue – universities and colleges across the country are turning away students who want to study computer science. 

A large part of the reason students are being turned away comes from the rapid growth in interest. According to the article,

“The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000”

With statistics like that over a five year period it’s understandable for there to be growing pains. But is higher education even capable of making the necessary changes to keep up with the demands?

Those students who are able to get into a computer science program are likely to experience larger class sizes, limits to the amount of computer science classes they are allowed to take and a smaller pool of professors to learn from. 

To adapt to the demands colleges and universities will have to make changes at an institutional level. They have long relied on the belief that the promise tenure is enough to keep professors loyal. That will no longer be feasible within the computer science department, where professors are regularly poached by tech giants offering salaries that most schools can’t afford. 

Obviously the lack of accessibility to computer science programs is a problem for the industry’s future. But perhaps the most concerning factor is that when we start to eliminate opportunity we are limiting our diversity.

“When you put any kind of barrier in place in terms of access to computer science majors, it tends to reduce the number of women and students of color in the program,” said Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College

Universities and colleges need to make the necessary changes to keep up with all the demand.