When a University Embraces the Workforce Development Model of Education

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point faces a $4.5 million deficit over the next two years because of declining enrollment and lower tuition revenues. They proposed earlier this month to add or expand 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment.

They said in order to fund this investment “resources would be shifted from programs with lower enrollment, primarily in the traditional humanities and social sciences. Although some majors are proposed to be eliminated, courses would continue to be taught in these fields, and minors or certificates will be offered.”

Here are the programs they propose expanding:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Conservation Law Enforcement
  • Finance
  • Fire Science
  • Graphic Design
  • Management
  • Marketing

In addition, new bachelor’s (or advanced) degree programs are proposed in:

  • Aquaculture/Aquaponics
  • Captive Wildlife
  • Ecosystem Design and Remediation
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geographic Information Science
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Natural Resources
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy

I understand adding some of the majors and expanding some programs, colleges do prepare students for careers. But Aquaculture/Aquaponics?

Here are the subjects they plan to eliminate as a major.

  • American Studies
  • Art – Graphic Design will continue as a distinct major
  • English – English for teacher certification will continue
  • French
  • Geography
  • Geoscience
  • German
  • History – Social Science for teacher certification will continue
  • Music Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Sociology — Social Work major will continue
  • Spanish

You can see what their current majors and minors are here.

Now we can certainly argue about the value of a degree in history or English, generally, if you plan on majoring in those subjects you plan to teach and go on for additional graduate work.

Here is a thought. If additional colleges and universities adopted this particular business model who will, down the road, be available to teach these subjects?

We’ve already seen classical education jettisoned in favor of workforce development at the K-12 level. Now workforce development goes to college.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we eventually see these classes eliminated entirely.

One thought on “When a University Embraces the Workforce Development Model of Education

  1. I loved education that I could sink my teeth into at the religious college I attended. Liberal arts and other things that build refinement and character and make for good citizenship are important, and it’s so cool to have attended a place that was private for over a century steeped deep in tradition outside of the clutches of politics and most modern educational trends. Such a contrast from grade school when it was all about career and college prep and standards. I wish it happened in grade school so college was the icing on the cake, and I’m not all made to say yes college campuses are terrible but where else are you going to make up for your terrible lifeless grade school education? I suppose we need to learn about careers somewhere, so if we can’t have apprenticeships, career training might as well be in college. What I’m saying is this article wouldn’t be sad if all children had a good pre-college education, then honestly I wouldn’t care if this college needs to cater to the market in order to stay above water. It’s not a university’s job to make up for a poor quality grade school education.

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