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Despite an 80 percent increase in the number of courses offered and moves to extend laboratory hours, the number of declared biology majors at UCSD has fallen by more than 1,500 in recent years, the campus’ Guardian is reporting.

The university’s nationally-recognized Division of Biological Sciences saw a 60 percent increase in enrollment between 2000 and 2007, topping out at 5,294 before overcrowding caused the department to declare an “impacted” status for incoming freshmen in 2009 and transfer students in 2011. The status has led to limited enrollment in the following years, eventually culling the crop of biology majors to 3,781.

“During this period of extraordinary growth in student enrollments, we made every effort to maintain a quality student experience for our undergraduate majors,” Associate Dean of Education for the division Gabrielle Weinhausen told the Guardian, admitting that due to continuing undergraduate population growth “even these measures were insufficient.”

The university is hoping that at some point in the future funding for additional classrooms, lab space, and faculty will allow the division to lift its impacted status.

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Visduh Nov. 27, 2012 @ 9:43 a.m.

So, let me get this right. The division increased the number of distinct courses by 80% in recent years, probably making them more specific or specialized, while it was shrinking the number of undergrad majors by 1500. Does this make sense? It actually might, if you are an academician, but to the public at large it sounds odd.

That bio program at UCSD has been in high demand for about as long as there has been a UCSD. That doesn't mean that it was really all that good, but for some reason many, many kids with aspirations to attend medical school flocked there thinking it would give them an excellent preparation for med school and an edge on being accepted. The fact that UCSD had its own med school didn't hurt either.

I think this also reflects the low priority that undergraduate education holds at most UC campuses, but especially Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego. This report would be more informative if it also mentioned the numbers of graduate students in that division. I doubt they have fallen much or at all over the same time period. Yet, the public in the state thinks, and for good reason, that the UC exists to provide "college educations" to the young people of California. They don't think that it exists to be a "research university" or a home for professional and graduate studies if those things interfere with taking care of the undergrads.


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