The UNC computer science department has a massive enrollment problem, and we have to figure out a solution.
Over the past ten years, the number of UNC students declaring or intending to major in computer science has swelled 831.65 percent, far outpacing faculty growth in the department, which grew 8.2 percent in the same time period.
Because the University doesn’t staff enough computer science professors, the department is overworking its faculty. According to The Daily Tar Heel, computer science professors teach an average of 815 credit hours a semester. By comparison, biology professors teach an average of 558 hours. If nothing changes, professors may burn out, leading to early departures and retirement.
In addition, because of the high demand for computer science classes, many students aren’t able to take intro level classes. This sort of barrier could disproportionately affect students already underrepresented within the computer science field — such as women, Latinx students, African Americans and poor first-generation students.
These computer science growth problems are not unique to UNC. According to the New York Times, the number of undergraduates studying computer science in the country doubled between 2013 and 2017, while the number of tenure-track professors only grew by about 17 percent. All over the country, universities are attempting to incorporate a massive influx of computer science students into their programs without an adequate supply of professors.