A committee of the University of Maryland's governing body voted unanimously yesterday to recommend restricting enrollment in the computer science department to control the runaway demand for computer courses.
The recommendation by the educational policy committee of the university's Board of Regents, expected to be approved at the board's October meeting, was prompted by the attraction of high-paying jobs in the computer industry, which has generated unprecedented interest in computer science. University officials say enrollment must be limited or the overall quality of the program will deteriorate.
The department expects to have nearly 2,000 majors in computer science enrolled by this fall, compared to only 365 in 1977. According to Marvin Zelkowitz, assistant chairman of the computer department, the department is only capable of handling about 1,200 majors a year because the university's limited resources have not permitted the department to grow with the demand.
The educational policy committee called for limiting the number of freshmen admitted as computer science majors to 40 "highly qualified" students. Zelkowitz said other students would have to compete for admission to the department after completing two semesters of work, including four specified mathematics and computer science courses.
Admission would be limited according to the department's resources and based on the students' overall grade point averages. The total number of computer science majors would eventually be reduced to 770 by 1986.
Computer science courses are also in great demand among students who major in other fields, since a basic knowledge of computers is becoming a prerequisite for many jobs.
According to William Kirwan, vice chancellor for academic affairs, the overwhelming number of computer science majors has made it increasingly difficult for other students to get needed computer classes.
Kirwan remarked that a sophomore computer major now "can't be sure of getting enough computer science courses to graduate in four years" and sometimes must stay on to complete the required work.
The university currently offers only one computer class to nonmajors. Kirwan said one of the university's long range goals is to make "computer literacy" a graduation requirement for all students.
The Board of Regents' finance committee also discussed computers yesterday.
After approving a budget for fiscal 1985 that Chancellor John Slaughter of the College Park campus said would do little more than maintain the status quo, the committee approved a supplemental list of projects totalling $8.5 million it hopes to persuade Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes to add to the $725 million budget limit he imposed on the university. Hughes' budget limit represents a 4 percent increase from last year.
The second item on the supplemental list is a $1.5 million request to replace the university's main computer at College Park. Another $1.8 million is being requested for microcomputers. University President John Toll said the school would need between $30 million to $50 million to obtain computer equipment comparable to that at schools of similar size in other states.
"Inadequate funding is something this board has been dealing with for 10 years," said Board Chairman Joseph D. Tydings.
The budget also includes a 7 percent average increase in tuition and fees, which vary at each campus. At College Park, tuition and fees for in-state students would increase $78, from $1,322 to $1,410. Room and board is not included in the totals and will not be decided on till May.
Tuition and fees at the university's predominantly black Eastern Shore campus would increase from $1,128 to $1,252. Toll said the state legislature has insisted on bringing fees at that campus in line with those at the other campuses.
The budget also includes a 5 percent faculty merit pay increase, $550,000 for a faculty recruitment and retention fund and $600,000 for development of the second phase of the university's engineering Research Center, which will serve private industry.