Wall Street brain drain could benefit IT sector

The instability of Wall Street might drive students who were bent on careers in the financial industry into the information technology field, according to some of the nation's top IT academics, reports Computerworld.

William Dally, chairman of the computer science department at Stanford University, said that for the last several years, he has watched some students interested in technology go into banking and finance because those fields could be more lucrative.

"Many thought they could make more money in hedge funds," Dally said. He said students are returning to computer science because they like the field and not because it can necessarily make them rich.

John Gallaugher, associate professor of information systems in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, said he's already seeing a shift in student interest.

"Students have commented to me and written on their course wikis that they're considering changing from finance [majors], both based on the appeal of IS and concern over availability of finance jobs" in the future, Gallaugher said.

After the dot-com bust, computer science enrollments began declining, reaching a low of 8,021 last year from 14,185 in 2003-2004, according to the Computing Research Association (CRA) in Washington, which tracks year-over-year enrollment and graduate trends at 170 Ph.D.-granting institutions.

"Current economic conditions seem to impact the choice that students make in the majors they choose -- that has been true for computer science," said Jay Vegso, a CRA analyst who studies computer science enrollment trends.
"Students who are now choosing majors might be looking for safer alternatives," he said, and IT may be a safer alternative.

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