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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kingston University Closes First Bachelors GIS Program

Kenneth Field (@kennethfield) writes on Twitter:
News reaches me that Kingston University London have closed the world's first Bachelors GIS course after 23 yrs. Words fail me.
He was there until joining Esri not long ago. He follows up:
@andnewmanGEO @jeremy_morley @osbornec someday I may post a long essay I wrote on what went on & what went wrong at KU...still too soon tho
I have no particular insight into this program or university, but I have been doing some work detailing new GIS degree and certificate programs in the United States. One conclusion I drew from my limited data was that there are new two year GIS certificate and associates degrees and masters degrees but no new four year bachelors degrees. There are few GIS bachelors degrees in the U.S.; off the top of my head I can think of just the one at American Sentinel, a for profit school, but I'm pretty sure there are few others. Somehow that degree package has not been popular here. Why not?

I think some geography programs were not comfortable with GIS leading geography. So degrees are conferred in geography but with a specialization in GIS. That's how my alma mater Penn State does it.

The current economic downturn and the push for more career focused learning has but students in the drivers' seat. They are demanding shorter programs that can get them into real jobs faster. Hence a two year certificate or two year associates degree can be a shortcut to a good paying job. The new masters programs I see are not academic masters, but rather professional masters aimed at adding skills to those of a currently working professional. Again, the goal is workforce enhancement.

Mr. Field suggests other factors may be at play at Kingston, but at some level its following the pattern I'm seeing here in the U.S.