Health up engineering down

April 3, 2011
| By Yanan Chen |
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LANSING — The number of students who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering is declining while those in health-related majors is increasing dramatically at public universities, according to the House Fiscal Agency.

During the past six years, the number of undergraduate students in Michigan’s 15 public universities who earned bachelor’s degree in engineering majors dropped 4.4 percent. At the same time, the number in health-related majors increased 76 percent.

The House Fiscal Agency is a nonpartisan office that advises the House on budget and tax issue. Its figures show that the most popular majors are business-related, which increased 4.2 percent in six years.

“Health-related majors are the second most-popular majors on the chart — engineering ranked fifth,” said Kyle Jen, the agency’s higher education budget analyst.

“There are two reasons for the popularity of health-related majors,” said Jeanette Klemczak, the chief nurse executive for the Department of Community Health.

“First is because the aging population in Michigan keeps growing. We have 100,000 people who are over age 55 and they need more nurses for home care, hospital care and other care. That’s a very good demand for professionals in health,” Klemczak said.

“The second one is that even the younger citizens are not very healthy. Some citizens have Type 2 diabetes as young as in kindergarten. They need more health care. And 50 percent of nurses will be retired in the next 10 years, so we need more students,” she said.

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