would tie colleges’ eligibility for campus-based aid programs—Perkins loans, work-study jobs and supplemental grants for low-income students—to the institutions’ success in improving affordability and value for students.”3
At the same time that these changes are taking place, there are countervailing opportunities. As discussed in Chapter 3, there is a broadening and overall expansion in the number of applications of the mathematical sciences. This increases the number of students who may be interested in courses within mathematical sciences departments, including some at the upper-division level. In addition, career paths in an expanding palette of areas come with an expectation of mid-career acquisition of new quantitative skills. Creating pathways for those already in the workplace to learn these new skill sets provides a major opportunity for mathematical sciences departments.
How mathematical sciences departments adapt to and manage these changes and opportunities will strongly affect the health of the profession and the quality of education offered by U.S. universities. The pace of change to the business model for education may well be similar in magnitude to that which currently roils the publishing industry. The mathematical sciences community needs to get out ahead of these potential changes and proactively make the most of its new opportunities.
Universities are also feeling other pressures that, directly or indirectly, could affect the state of the mathematical sciences in 2025. For example, many graduate students from overseas pay full tuition, so there is some incentive for universities to actively recruit them. In particular, self-funded master’s students from abroad, or students seeking professional master’s degrees, can be helpful to department finances, but will too many such students change the research environment?
Fiscal stresses on colleges and universities are also leading to the establishment of some for-profit educational institutions. This trend took root for continuing education, but it is now playing an increasing role in undergraduate education. It is difficult to say how widespread for-profit colleges and universities may become or how their presence might change the environment for the mathematical sciences, but it is a trend that mathematical scientists should monitor. In traditional settings, some educators are experimenting with lower-cost ways of providing education, such as Web-based courses that put much more burden on the students, thereby allowing individual professors to serve larger numbers of students. Mathematics and statistics, because they do not involve laboratory work, would appear to be promising targets for online delivery.
For example, the Math Emporium at Virginia Tech uses four untenured mathematics instructors to lead seven entry-level courses with enrollments
3 Tamar Lewin, 2012, Obama plan links college aid with affordability, New York Times, January 27.