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This paper presents the results of a survey of first year economics students at the University of Wollongong undertaken in 1995. The survey aimed to gauge student attitudes towards economics as a discipline relative to other subjects taken within the Commerce degree. It was conducted in an attempt to identify causes for declining enrolments in economics in the 1990s, a phenomenon which has been identified recently in Australian Universities as well as in the USA in the 1980s.

A number of explanations of declining enrolments were tested with the survey results. Of these, general competition from 'business' subjects i.e. management, marketing, accounting, appears the most obvious cause. Other results relating to the subject matter, difficulty, relevance and level of interest in economics did not suggest there were major problems with economics as a discipline.

A number of areas where first year economics could be improved were identified. The Department of Economics is developing strategies to implement these changes in order to improve the attractiveness of its offerings. These mainly involve reduced class sizes, introduction of new subjects, more innovative assessment procedures, careers information, etc. Further surveying will be undertaken into aspects of the subject matter which may be influencing students’ subject choices regarding economics.