The serious issue the computer science department has been grappling with as of late should be one that most students can see with their own eyes. There seems to be more and more computer science majors, most of whom are international students, coming to Northwest every year.
While the problem has several different facets, the solution is clear. To continue the growth of the program, Northwest needs to shift money around to allow for the hiring of more computer science professors.
It was inevitable that the Computer Science department would run its resources thin in order to sustain the flow of new students. That’s a testament to the quality of the degree program. In our story on page A1, computer science students praise the program’s teachers and coursework. Their experience in the department makes them concerned that others may not have the same opportunity if the cap is put in place.
Capping the amount of students in this popular degree program would have a detrimental effect on the future admittance of more international students to Northwest.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Steiner said the applied computer science Master’s program consists of 485 international students, most of whom are from India. Considering current students’ favorable opinion of the program, along with the reputation the program has garnered among prospective students, the University could miss out on a golden opportunity to improve the already successful program if it institutes the cap.
Thankfully, the University appears to be looking for several other potential solutions to the problem. Steiner and the College of Arts and Sciences have approved a plan to increase the number of faculty in the program. Even more encouraging is the fact that Steiner made the point that money is no issue, meaning that the University is prepared to move resources around to sustain the success of their quality program.
Hiring new professors would preserve an aspect of the computer science program that attracts the most students: the student-professor ratio. Students in the program appreciate and will to continue to appreciate that class sizes aren’t out of control at Northwest. Smaller class sizes allows for more focus on the progress on individual students in the program.
Additionally, given the fact that students we interviewed praised their professors’ ability to teach fundamentals to students without computer science experience, it’s clear that the program would benefit from more teachers with the same skills.
It’s reassuring that the University appears to be getting out in front of this issue. If Northwest hopes to continue the success of the computer science program and stay competitive with other colleges recruiting international students, the plan to hire new faculty must be adopted.