Budget cuts are causing colleges all across the U.S. to make tough decisions about which majors and programs to keep running and which to cut back or eliminate. Some areas are more vulnerable than others due to low enrollment, costs of remaining open and government budget restrictions. Although there may be exceptions, there are generally eight areas that colleges look to first when it comes time to save cash. This list originally appeared on onlinecollege.net. Reprinted here with permission.
While looking for ways to save money, some colleges have decided to start by cutting majors at the graduate level. Graduate Programs are generally much more costly to run than undergraduate programs, although a decreasing number of students enrolling in certain graduate-level majors has caused financial woes for many colleges, too, like the University of Minnesota and Fayetteville State University.
For many colleges, languages are a non-necessary track for diplomas and are easily cut when making the decision of where to tighten the belt. Some colleges have cut their entire language department while others have eliminated the major but have retained professors to teach a few classes. European languages — French, Spanish, German and Italian — have been found to be the most commonly cut, but all language classes are vulnerable.
Athletics can be a drain on a college, even though ticket sales, merchandising and other aspects bring in some revenue. However, football and men's basketball are the only two college sports considered profitable, and only 57 percent of colleges reported profit from them at all, which makes sustaining any others a burden for struggling colleges. The largest portion of money that comes in for sports typically goes to salaries and scholarships.
It's no secret that physical education programs in schools have been declining around the U.S. for decades. Now, at the college level, budget cuts are forcing classes out of circulation. So far, the major hasn't been as vulnerable as the individual classes themselves, but with sports and physical education being two costly programs, they are some of the first looked at when trimming the fat.
College-level arts programs are facing severe cutbacks all across the U.S. With funding for many college programs in dire straits, schools are being forced to find massive budget cuts. In the state of Georgia, 35 colleges were required to find $600 million in cuts for the 2011-2012 school year, which put the performing arts, music and theater departments, and others, on the chopping block.
Although well-trained technical experts like engineers, in certain fields, are still in demand today, colleges are cutting such programs because they are very expensive to teach.
Because the engineering field took a hit during the economic downturn and many lost their jobs, the major was considered to be in an underperforming field, and many colleges opted to cut it out altogether. Currently, there is not an industrial engineering program available in any college in the state of Illinois.
Physics programs are frequently one of the first to go when colleges are looking to make cuts to save money. Low enrollment in a very difficult major is the reason. In Texas, seven major public universities are being told to cut their physics programs for failing to graduate at least 25 students in the past 5 years. Around the U.S., while some colleges are completely eliminating their physics departments, others are merging physics with similar areas of study to avoid canceling the major all together.
Cuts to the computer science major have caused uproar in the higher education community because the booming tech industry has made employers desperate to fill jobs for software engineers and Web developers.
The University of Florida is the latest college to almost completely eliminate its computer science department in favor of a more balanced budget.