Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Math out of education 

Cold Spring Shops has linked a story about University of Hull, which has closed its math program.

Last night, the London Mathematical Society said the decision was part of a wider trend and warned that the UK was in danger of becoming a "maths wasteland". Peter Cooper, the society's executive secretary, said: "Maths is perceived as a hard subject by many students. There is a real difficulty in attracting sufficient numbers of people in many institutions."

Four other maths departments in England have closed since 1999 and the number of students has fallen by more than 2,200 in the same period.

Of the 175 people studying maths at Hull, more than a third are overseas students, compared with an average of 16% across other courses. A university spokeswoman said it was "not good business sense" to rely on the volatile overseas market.

Maybe the problem is that we don't teach it quite like we used to. But I see something here: As tightening visa restrictions reduce the flow of international students to U.S. campuses, we will see a change in the variety of programs universities offer. Students from the developing world are not coming to America to take ethnic or women's studies programs. They come for training that requires math.
The most popular fields of study for international students in the United States are business and management, engineering, and mathematics and computer sciences.