Interesting Comment on Jane Shaw’s WSJ Piece
Last week the Wall Street Journal ran an article by the Pope Center’s Jane Shaw and today’s paper has several response letters. Here is the most interesting of them, by a professor who sees declining standards even in what we think are still “hard” fields:
I cannot speak about the liberal arts, but even in the hard sciences and engineering, there is a definite “race to the bottom.”
Universities are more concerned about the time it takes for students to earn that engineering degree—and the trend is to lower the credit hours needed for engineering. Courses that once used to be required and necessary are being dropped. An undergraduate degree in chemical, civil and electrical engineering required sufficient rigor so that most students who earned those degrees could have expected to have years of success in their chosen careers, but that is changing.
As the demographics change and most second- and third-tier universities compete for those students (and their dollars) we will see an acceleration of the race to the bottom. Universities will soon start selling themselves by that they can help someone earn that coveted engineering degrees in three years (and soon it will become two).
U.S. universities used to be uniquely superb but the quality is deteriorating rapidly. We must ask why and fix the problem before it it too late.
Prof. Krishnan K. Chittur
University of Alabama