If students heeded calls from the world of business which is looking for computer experts, the number of freshmen studying informatics would be sharply on the rise given that there is an enormous shortage of IT experts. However, it seems as if students reacted with suspicion to these calls, because, right on the contrary, the number of students wanting to study computer sciences dropped significantly in 2006 despite the current big lack in computer experts, as was announced by the German Association for Information Management, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM).
The number of freshmen studying informatics at German universities and universities of applied sciences dropped by 5% to 28.360 students last year. Since its peak in the year 2000 the number of freshmen studying informatics has fallen by 26 percent. Taking into account the usual percentage of 50% for those breaking off their studies the number of informatics graduates will reach less than 14.000 a few years from now. The demand, however, is estimated by BITKOM to amount to 20.000 graduates per year.
One reason for the low number of freshmen is the small share of young women wishing to study informatics, says Willi Berchthold, BITKOM chairman: Last year women accounted for 17% of students starting their computer science studies with tendency falling. In countries like France, Spain or Italy this figure stands at above 30%. In order to fill more young people with enthusiasm about informatics, the studies ought to be made more attractive. “A modern approach to studies of informatics provides a lot of practical experience, strong support of individual strengths and good mentoring which will lead to shorter study periods.” According to the BITKOM survey, the fall in freshman numbers mainly relates to informatics departments at universities and less to universities of applied sciences. In the meantime, about fifty percent of informatics students study at universities of applied sciences.
This seems to be a sign for computer sciences being taught too theoretically at universities and therefore not matching the requirements of real life. Now it is up to companies together with students to forge a lobby for studies which meet the needs of practice.