Computer science to double enrolment

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By Beatrice Politi

Ryerson’s school of computer science will get a surge of money from the Ontario government next fall. 

The school has decided to increase enrolment in exchange for government grants — a move announced by the school of electrical and computer engineering in September.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Ernie Eves announced the “double-the-pipeline” program in May in response to industry complaints about the lack of computer science graduates and electrical and computer engineers in Canada.  The government plans to spend $150 million to double the number of students in science and technology-based post-secondary programs.

Computer science will receive $3,500 for every additional student admitted in the next two academic years.  The school will be adding an extra 40 spaces next fall and another 40 the following year, doubling enrolment from 135 students in 1995 — the base year chosen by the government — to 270 students in the year 2000.

Though the decision will allow more students into the program, not everyone is embracing the idea.  One fourth-year computer science student, who didn’t want to be named, feels adding 80 additional students will only exacerbate current problems.

“We don’t have enough facilities or rooms as it is.  All we have are computers that are outdated,” he said.  “More students are only going to make it worse.”

But the chair of computer science, Chris Alexopoulos, is confident that opening the doors to more students will not have a negative impact on academic standards.

“We are not lowering standards.  We presume more students will choose computer science because there are more jobs there.  We expect a redirection of students from other areas to computer science.”

Though the department hasn’t received any funding yet, plans are already in the works to accommodate the new students.  There will be two new computer labs constructed in the Rogers Communication Centre.  Alexopoulos estimates that the price tag for the additional equipment will be $120,000.  Eight more instructors and three technical support workers will be hired over the next four years to deal with the additional students.  The grants received from the government will cover the costs.

Unlike computer science, the school of electrical and computer engineering elected not to double enrolment.  Instead, 55 additional students were admitted this year, meeting the minimum 20 per cent increase required for grant eligibility.

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