Video gaming in 2018 is leaps and bounds ahead of the arcade games of old, and as league tournaments become more popular — not to mention lucrative — universities across the globe are rearranging their programs and facilities to accommodate hardcore, competitive gamers.
The University of Akron has jumped on board, announcing it will phase out 80 degree programs over the next few years while beefing up facilities aimed at furthering its appeal to gamers.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the university will refocus funds and attention on the institution’s strengths, which included nursing, biosciences, engineering, dance, and music, and divert resources from the degree programs to be cut — about 20 percent of its current offerings — to its stronger programs.
The 10 Ph.D. programs, 33 master’s programs, 20 bachelor’s programs, and 17 associate-degree programs that will be phased out suffered low enrollment or were duplicates of prosperous programs at other, similar institutions.
The process will take a few years, and will free up about $6 million for reallocation, Alex Knisely, a university spokesman, said in an email. There’s no plan to terminate any faculty or staff members because of the program cuts, the statement said. Akron also wants to hire 31 full-time faculty members in those programs identified as priorities, the statement said.
Eliminating those unpopular degrees, as the university termed them, will also allow for a ramping up of the school’s competitive video gaming offerings.
On Thursday, Akron announced that it would open three facilities to accommodate varsity, club, and recreational gamers. The university said the centers would represent “the largest amount of dedicated esports space of any university in the world to date.”
Five inaugural varsity teams will compete this fall in the video games Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Rocket League. The games explore themes of fantasy and horror; thwarting insidious terrorist plots; and soccer with rocket-powered cars.
Akron is taking esports “seriously,” the university said in a statement on Thursday, by “providing student gamers with esports facilities unlike any other kind in the world.” The centers will open October 5.