US institutions report significant drop in applicants

Computer Science enrollment figures slump

Forget the recruitment crisis – according to NPR, it’s an enrollment crisis that’s threatening the future of our talent pipeline.

The news outlet is reporting that the number of students enrolling in computer science degree courses in the US has dropped significantly in the past few years. As an example, the piece points to the University of Maryland which had 2200 computer science students enroll the 2000, a figure which dropped significantly to 600 this year.

The slump is blamed on the burst of the internet bubble several years ago. It is said that computer science numbers were at their highest during the bubble due to the perceived massive employability of comp. sci graduates – but as the bubble burst, suddenly a huge amount of graduates were left scrabbling over few jobs.

Another problem, says the National Science Foundation’s Jeanette Wing, is the perception that computer science degrees result in dreary lives writing code. To combat this, the foundation is funding courses across the US in order to rejuvinate their comp sci programmes to show the breadth of possibilities open to graduates.

It’s an issue that some within our industry are working on – speaking at the Develop Conference last year, Microsoft’s Chris Satchell elaborated how the company hopes that, by partnering its XNA game programming framework with academic institutions, it can help make computer science an attractive prospect.

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