Leena Shajy

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should we close down a program /course in the university because there are less takers?

We have often observed that some courses/program/studies get lot of attention and has high market value. For instance management, engineering etc. But courses on pure regional literature, natural science have lost its charm and universities are closing down such course.

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    Apr 16 2012: In the final analysis univesities are a business. As any business person knows if you do not cut your losses then you will soon be out of business. As an example: a student pay $20 to take a class for eight weeks. Three students sign up = $60. The instructor makes $1,000; cleaners make $15 per hour; operations makes $20 per hour; admin support makes $20 per hour; electric/water/insurance/retirement/etc are all players. If I presented these numbers to you in a venue that you were not involved in you would say get out of a losing venture. We should think with our pocketbook not our heatrs in this situation. All the best. Bob
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    Apr 15 2012: Sadly this is the reality of Indian Government. We will have to stop them as much as possible. Because very slowly and swiftly Govt. Wants to run away from the responsibility of keeping and upgrading Indian education so other private players enter in the vacant areas later. But reality across the western world and Europe is different and we definitely need to respect for their contribution and love for diverse education in many areas.
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    Apr 15 2012: In current education system in most countries , school / college / unversities are factories producing workforces at profit.......so that's the natural consequences of having poor demand of any subject in market place.

    People with learning mindset will continue to learn those subjects though they will not have a degree (actually the don't bother about certificate or degree).....Internet could bbe major source for learning of those subjects......

    Learning of human civilaiztion started without having any educational institution.....
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    Apr 13 2012: Many schools and universities are nothing but another business venture. They will offer mainly those courses that have buyers who can pay. The flow of buyer towards a specific subject largely depends on over all socio-political condition of a society or country. It is the decision of the Government, i.e the people (in a true democracy) that dictate the flow.
    If studying acting or literature or music does not offer a sustainable career & livelihood, then not many people will be interested to such courses. Those courses will die it "natural" death- despite of the fact that human civilization and our daily lives will be severely impacted without it.
    As per a NPR documentary, more than 92% of "professional" actors in Broadway in New York hardly can manage a decent life (money wise). The same is true for games and sports, even in countries like USA, with its huge influence of college sports.
    If the government fails to provide a social safety net, all such "unproductive" areas of study will eventually be lost in oblivion. Everyone now seem to like to study medicine, technology (mainly IT in countries like India), business (MBA courses), BPO/KPO etc. Overall quality of human lives and society will be severely (and sometimes irreversibly) damaged- as we see in more acute form in India. If the general voters are not "educated" (in its real sense, not just degree-wise), we probably can not even slow down this rot, leave alone stopping it or reversing it back- even in developed countries.
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    Apr 13 2012: It all depends on how the owner or the governing council (it can be private party or Government) defines "education".
    These blogs and my thoughts may be of some help-
    1) "What is Education?"- http://jaychatterjee.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-is-education.html
    2) "Primary and secondary education reform should be India's top priority"- http://jaychatterjee.blogspot.com/2009/04/primary-and-secondary-education-reform.html
    3) "The Great Dilemma of the Life Sciences"- http://jaychatterjee.blogspot.com/2010/12/great-dilema-of-life-sciences.html and in the context of India-
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    Apr 13 2012: In the US these decisions are made not only on what my colleagues have already posted but also on the mission and the values of the university. So for instance, a faith based university is not going to close down religion courses even with a decline in enrollment because those classes are consistent with the education the university provides. A liberal arts college will not back off the humanities because that is part of the education they provide. They might consider cutting the science department (actually happened in a school I attended) but the football team is usually well funded.

    These decisions are usually a balance of what generates revenue for the institution, what programs are expensive, and what is the mission or product the institution provides.
  • Apr 12 2012: I guess, if universities are businesses, it makes sense. Supply and Demand and all that jazz. Anyway, if someone is motivated, they can learn whatever they want to learn by seekfinding the knowledge wherever it is. Go with your own flow, Leena.
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    Apr 12 2012: Universities need to make choices of how they use their resources. It often costs just as much to offer a course to one student as to fifty. The cost of offering the course for one student is to have to say no to the fifty who would have benefited had the course with larger demand been offered instead.Still, many universities offer courses with large enrollment as well as those with small enrollment because the subject with small enrollment is important. This is a curriculum decision for a university to make responsibly by considering what is important in a broad education and in preparing students for further education.A school is unlikely to cut a course like quantum mechanics, even if the course has few takers. The subject is too important not to offer it.There are other subjects which might be taught better as part of another course or or are no longer worth offering if that would mean not being able to not offeri a subject important in an education for the future.
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    Apr 12 2012: Shifts in the popularity of courses happens on a regular basis. In the UK, Sociology was popular in the 1970's, but has since been over taken by Psychology. Some modern courses teach a mixture of both subjects.

    The problem arises where courses are important to the national / global interest e.g. chemistry has become less popular in the UK as a single degree subject and many universities have closed courses. I feel this is short sighted and courses should be subsidised to keep even small cohorts going.

    Regionally specific subjects are more problematic to justify if universities fail to attract the minimum number of students to make the course viable. Perhaps these subject could be provided as units within other closely related degree programmes - or they could be taken on by local colleges, rather then the university sector.

    We are seeing the decline in purely academic subjects. Higher education is so expensive, students wish to maximise their employability and future earning potential. The romance of education for education’s sake is certainly only for the super rich - if they are interested. I see subjects such as archaeology, classics and philosophy experiencing problems in the university sector in the near future.